Democratic senators are raising questions about a July 13 disclosure from the US presidential commission investigating voter fraud that included more than 100 pages of unredacted comments from the public, including sensitive personal information like names and addresses.
On Monday, Sens. Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), and Ron Wyden (D-OR) will send a letter to President Donald Trump asking why the commission publicized so much private information, much of it from citizens critical of the new commission.
"This incident warrants answers from the Administration," the senators write in their letter, a copy of which was provided to Vox ahead of its release.
They add: "The decision by the White House to publish the emails commenting on the Commission without redacting personal information demonstrates, at best, a lack of sensitivity to and simple disregard for the very concerns raised in many of emails."
So far, there’s no real evidence to suggest the disclosure was necessarily malicious — that it was motivated by a desire to dox the commission’s political opponents. But Senate Democrats want to understand the underlying explanation for the release and are asking the White House for clarification.
What is the commission?
Beyond its recent disclosure of private information, the commission has proven a political lightning rod in its own right. As Vox’s German Lopez has explained, that’s because it was in part created to solve a problem that doesn’t exist — voter fraud.
As Lopez writes:
...[R]espected research on voter fraud has found again and again that it’s extremely rare in the US. At most, there might be a few hundred fraudulent votes in national elections — in which well over 100 million people can vote.
"The claim that there were millions of illegal voters in this past election is false and unsupported by any credible evidence," Rick Hasen, a professor of law and political science at the University of California Irvine, wrote. "The National Association of Secretaries of State, made up of the chief election officers of all 50 states, just issued a statement saying so."
Led by Vice President Mike Pence and Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, the voter fraud commission also sent a sweeping request last month for all voters’ names, party IDs, addresses, and the last four digits of their Social Security numbers. A full 44 states rejected at least part of that request.
Senate Democrats’ more targeted request seeks to find out only what led to the disclosure of private information on July 13. "In today’s digital world, where personal information in the wrong hands can lead to unwanted intrusions into people’s lives, we find it particularly concerning that the White House would intentionally release personal information without express consent," the senators write.
Read the letter in its entirety below: