Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law Continues Fighting For Transparent Proceedings Of Kobach Commission


JULY 18, 2017

Kristen Clarke Responds to Federal Judge Decision in Suit Against Election Integrity Commission

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, released the following statement Tuesday regarding the decision by a federal judge in a suit brought by the organization against the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity, a commission established by President Trump and co-led by Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach that threatens the rights of minority voters.  Last week, the Lawyers’ Committee filed a complaint in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia, against the Commission for violating key provisions of the Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA) and seeking emergency relief providing for the disclosure of documents by the Commission.  After the lawsuit was filed, the Commission began to release publicly some documents concerning its activities.  Because of these disclosures, the Court denied the emergency relief “at this time,” but indicated several times in its opinion that the Commission may be required to produce additional documents as the lawsuit progresses.

“It took our lawsuit demanding full transparency in accordance with federal law for the White House to finally disclose some, though not all, materials concerning the so-called Commission on Election Integrity.  While we are disappointed with the Court’s ruling denying our request for emergency relief, we are encouraged that the Court recognized that more documents are likely to be disclosed as our case continues.  With the voting rights of millions of Americans at stake, we will continue the fight to ensure full transparency with respect to this so-called Commission’s activities,” Clarke said. 

The Lawyers’ Committee filed its lawsuit last week with co counsel Arnold & Porter Kaye Scholer LLP outlining the Commission’s lack of transparency on several fronts.  It noted that the Commission’s scheduled July 19th meeting was not appropriately open to the public, and exposed the Commission’s lack of oversight and accountability.  The lawsuit additionally noted that the Commission failed to provide public notice or disclose details regarding its June 28th telephone conference meeting, during which the commission, led by Vice President Mike Pence and Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, approved a plan to request an unprecedented amount of voter data from statewide election officials.

Since the Lawyers’ Committee’s lawsuit was filed, the Commission has taken some steps to provide information to the public, most notably by launching a website and granting press access for Wednesday’s meeting.

“Although the Court did not issue an injunction, we will be working with the Lawyers’ Committee to monitor the situation to confirm that the Commission operates with the level transparency required by law,” said Arnold & Porter Kaye Scholer partner John A. Freedman.

In addition to the FACA lawsuit, the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law has undertaken a series of comprehensive actions to challenge the Pence-Kobach Commission.  This includes: the launch of a hotlinefor the public to report instances of voter suppression (866-OUR-VOTE); letters sent to Secretaries of State demanding they not comply with Mr. Kobach’s request for voter roll data; filing a Hatch Act complaintagainst Mr. Kobach regarding his repeated exploitation of his Commission role to solicit campaign contributions and promote his candidacy for Governor of Kansas; requesting documents regarding the Commission made pursuant to the Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA); and urging Secretaries of State to adopt a bipartisan resolution condemning the so-called Election Integrity Commission.

About the Lawyers’ Committee:

The Lawyers’ Committee, a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization, was formed in 1963 at the request of President John F. Kennedy to involve the private bar in providing legal services to address racial discrimination.  Now in its 54th year, the Lawyers’ Committee is continuing its quest “Move America Toward Justice.” The principal mission of the Lawyers’ Committee is to secure, through the rule of law, equal justice for all, particularly in the areas of criminal justice, fair housing and community development, economic justice, educational opportunities, and voting rights.