Speaking to Anderson Cooper at CNN, Kobach defended the Faux Commission by stating:
“First of all, the commission is not to prove or disprove what the President speculated about in January,” Kobach said. “The purpose of the commission is to find facts and put them on the table. Importantly, it’s a bipartisan commission.”
Kobach and his allies are desperate to claim that the Commission is bipartisan in order to give it a veneer of legitimacy and respectability (something it is not getting as 44 states deny all or part of what the commission is asking for in terms of protected voter data).
But of course it is not bipartisan like other commissions. As I explained in January, setting out markers for what a fair commission should look like:
First, members of the commission should be bipartisan and well-respected on all sides. This was the model of the Carter-Ford commission that investigated problems with the 2000 election, the Carter-Baker Commission that investigated problems with the 2004 election, and the Presidential Commission on Election Administration that was led by leading Democratic lawyer Bob Bauer and leading Republican lawyer Ben Ginsberg and that investigated problems with long lines and election administration after the 2012 election.
That’s not the case with this commission. Here’s how things are different.
- The leader, Pence, is a Republican who is running for office in 2020, with a direct stake in the outcome. There’s no Democratic co-chair, much less a Democrat running for office in 2020.
- Other members of the Commission include some of the most notorious people claiming voter suppression is rampant on the Republican side, including vice chair Kobach (who is currently running for governor and could be in Hatch Act trouble, and who was recently fined for misleading a court on voting info), von Spakovsky, and Blackwell.
- A Republican commissioner (McCormick) from the United States Election Assistance Commission is on the Pence-Kobach) Commission, as is a Republican SOS from Indiana (Lawson). Another apparent Republican (Borunda) just quit without explanation.
- Of the two Democratic commissioners, SOS Gardner (NH) is not considered a Democrat. That leaves only SOS Dunlap of Maine, who has claimed he is on the commission to keep it honest. (I think he should resign.)
- There are also two other Democrats (Rhodes, a local county clerk from a small West Virginia county, and Dunn, a former Arkansas Representative). Neither has any reputation for working in the election law field.
- So that’s 6 Republicans (Pence, Kobach, Lawson, Blackwell, McCormick, von Spakovsky) (it was 7 until Borunda resigned) and 4 Democrats (Gardner, Dunlap, Wood, and Dunn). Not even an even number.
Kind of a Hannity and Colmes model of bipartisanship. If, as Kobach says, it is “important” for this to be a truly bipartisan commission, this fails the test.