Published July 05, 2017
The vice chair of President Trump's voter fraud commission took aim Wednesday at media reports of a mass boycott of the ongoing probe, dismissing it as "more 'fake news.'"
Kris Kobach, who also serves as secretary of state in Kansas, said "despite media distortions and obstruction by a handful of state politicians," the committee will "continue its work to gather the facts through public records requests."
"While there are news reports that 44 states have "refused" to provide voter information to the Commission, these reports are patently false, more "fake news," he said in a statement. "At present, only 14 states and the District of Columbia have refused the Commission's request for publicly available voter information."
Kobach seemed to be referencing a story Monday by CNN that pegged the number at 44. According to Kobach, as of Wednesday 20 states have agreed to provide the publicly available information requested by the commission, and another 16 states are reviewing which information can be released under their state laws.
His comments came after President Trump over the weekend questioned why some states won’t comply with a request from his voting commission for information about voters, asking, “What are they trying to hide?”
Populous and liberal-leaning states such as California and New York are refusing to comply, but even some conservative ones that voted for Trump, including Texas, said they can provide only partial responses based on what is legally allowed under state law.
"Numerous states are refusing to give information to the very distinguished VOTER FRAUD PANEL,” Trump tweeted Saturday morning. “What are they trying to hide?"
Trump established the commission to investigate allegations of voter fraud in the 2016 elections, but Democrats have blasted it as a biased panel that is merely looking for ways to suppress the vote.
The disagreement is the latest incident in an ongoing argument between Democrats and Republicans about the extent of voter fraud across the country.
On Friday, New Hampshire Secretary of State Bill Gardner, a Democrat who is a member of Trump's Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity, defended the request.
He said the commission expected that many states would only partially comply because open records laws differ from state to state.
"If only half the states agree, we'll have to talk about that. I think, whatever they do, we'll work with that," said Gardner, adding that the commission will discuss the survey at its July 19 meeting.
White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders on Friday blasted the decision by some governors and secretaries of state not to comply.
"I think that that's mostly about a political stunt," she told reporters at a White House briefing.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.