Before they were formally named to President Trump’s now disbanded voter fraud commission, two conservative activists emailed the commission’s vice chair Kris Kobach about “potential Democratic commissioners,” a federal judge revealed Thursday.
The revelation came in a legal dispute over whether the Trump administration must turn over a batch of commission-related emails to a Democratic member of the panel, Maine Secretary of State Matt Dunlap.
While U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly had previously ordered that the emails in question be released to Dunlap, it now appears she is reconsidering that order, given that the conversations were happening before the commissioners — Hans von Spakovsky and J. Christian Adams — were officially appointed to the panel….
In considering the request, Kollar-Kotelly reviewed the emails herself, and earlier this week, she said that review prompted questions about when Adams and von Spakovsky were appointed. She questioned the accuracy of the government’s previous claims that Adams and von Spakovsky were appointed on July 11, 2017. The government, in a filing Thursday morning, insisted that date was accurate.
Her latest order shed some light why she was confused.
“Defendants’ ex parte submission of emails shows that these individuals were in communication with the Office of the Vice President about potential Democratic commissioners prior to their own appointments to the Commission,” her order said. “Although some of Mr. Kobach’s communications occurred after his appointment, his service as Vice-Chair is distinguishable from the role of other commissioners.”
Before her order Thursday, it was not known that the withheld emails were between Kobach, Adams and von Spakovsky. It was also not previously known that the emails were in about potential Democratic commissioners in particular.