Nov. 9, 2017: Maine Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap files a federal lawsuit against President Trump’s voter-fraud commission, of which Dunlap is a member, in an effort to get information about the panel’s correspondence and its work.

One of four Democrats on the 11-member Presidential Advisory Committee for Election Integrity, Dunlap says he requested the information three weeks earlier and never received it. The committee doesn’t tell him what it is doing, he says. As a result, he files the suit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.

The suit claims Vice President Mike Pence, the committee chairman, and Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, the vice chairman, are violating the Federal Advisory Committee Act, because that law forbids keeping members of such a committee in the dark about the committee’s actions.

David Becker, former director of the elections program at the Pew Charitable Trusts and executive director of the Center for Election Innovation and Research in Washington, D.C., says the situation is highly unusual.

“I can’t recall a single instance of a presidential advisory commission being sued by one of its members,” he tells the Portland Press Herald.

Trump set up the panel to investigate his claims that illegal voting cost him the popular vote in the 2016 presidential election, although he offered no proof of that. Other attempts to ferret out voter fraud, including one in Maine, found cases of it to be rare or nonexistent.

The committee is shut down in January 2018, less than eight months after it was formed. On June 27, a U.S. District Court judge orders that all committee correspondence be provided to Dunlap by July 18. The Trump administration complies.

On Aug. 3, Dunlap makes more than 1,000 pages of commission files public, saying that the panel found no evidence of widespread voter fraud.

Joseph Owen is an author, retired newspaper editor and board member of the Kennebec Historical Society. Owen’s book, “This Day in Maine,” can be ordered at To get a signed copy use promo code signedbyjoe at checkout. Joe can be contacted at:

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