President Donald Trump's voter fraud commission was dissolved at the beginning of the month, but the controversy surrounding it continues, as a new memo reveals specific requests from the commission to obtain the voting files for Texans with Hispanic last names.
The General Services Administration delivered a 70-page memorandum to Sen. Claire McCaskill in mid-December, responding to a request from the MIssouri Democrat for documents relating to the President's election integrity commission. The memo includes the budget requests by Vice President Mike Pence's office to form the commission, email exchanges regarding the commission, invoices, faxes and other documents.
Page 61 of the memo details a transaction from September 15, 2017, in which Ron Williams, a policy adviser for the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity, attempted to obtain a list of more than 49 million registered voters in Texas for $3,437.30. The purchase order specifically asked for "Hispanic surname flagged" in both the voter data file and voting history parameters. There was no such data in the GSA memo, just an invoice for a transaction.
The data, however, was never turned over to the commission. Sam Taylor, communications director for the Texas secretary of state, told CNN, "There was a temporary restraining order that prevented our office from providing any data to the commission. The commission was disbanded while that temporary restraining order was still in effect (and it is still in effect today)."
There were similar invoices and transaction details in the memo from the commission for other states like Alaska, Georgia, Idaho, West Virginia and several others. The statewide voter registration data for Idaho cost the commission just $20. The Office of the Vice President requested several hundred thousand dollars to run the commission, which was formed at the direction of the President early in his presidency.
It was dissolved on January 3 and White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said in a statement at the time, "Despite substantial evidence of voter fraud, many states have refused to provide the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity with basic information relevant to its inquiry. Rather than engage in endless legal battles at taxpayer expense, today President Donald J. Trump signed an executive order to dissolve the commission, and he has asked the Department of Homeland Security to review its initial findings and determine next courses of action."
Former commission member and Maine Secretary of State Matt Dunlap, who has been a vocal critic of the commission, told CNN that the details in the memo "raise grave questions about exactly what the commission hoped to find and what 'problems' it planned on solving."
Flagging Hispanic surnames, he said, "gives room for no small amount of alarm in the very possibility that an American citizen could be suspected of voter misconduct based on their ethnicity."
Dunlap said he is pursuing an open records request in Texas to get to the bottom of the memo.