The commission was started to back up Trump’s unsupported claims of massive voter fraud, which he advanced as the reason Hillary Clinton won the popular vote in the 2016 presidential election. Trump named Vice President Mike Pence the nominal chair of the commission, but then-Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, the vice chair, was the driving force behind its operation. Kobach is one of the country’s leading public figures contending that voter fraud is a major problem in the United States. He is one of a small group of public figures I’ve dubbed the “fraudulent fraud squad,” who built up the myth of rampant voter fraud that Republican legislatures have used to justify severe rules making it harder to register and vote. Kobach ran the meetings of the commission and seemed to dictate its agenda.
The collapse of the Pence-Kobach fraud commission was a watershed moment in the modern history of voter fraud mythmaking and attempts at voter suppression. For years, people like Kobach and the Heritage Foundation’s Hans von Spakovsky had spun stories of voter fraud by relying upon anecdotal accounts, innuendo, falsehoods, and accusations that almost never panned out. Most of this cheap talk was not subjected to cross-examination or rigorous study. The trial and commission fiasco changed all that….
I myself received a shout-out from Adams in documents released in litigation after the commission closed. In an email exchange with von Spakovsky and some PILF employees at the time of the commission’s founding, Adams commented on my earlier criticism of their work perpetuating the voter fraud myth: “Rick Hasen is a raw enemy activist… He is the central organizing location of our foes. He is going to get very ugly toward me and Hans when/if we are nominated by the President to the Voter Fraud Commission.” Logan Churchwell, the spokesperson for PILF, urged Adams to “push” my “buttons” so I would become “unhinged.” “Sick of him being the elder statesman in the eyes of the MSM [mainstream media].”