The whole affair began when he received a call from Kobach asking if he’d join the commission. At first, he said, he had no intention to help. But friends and colleagues advised him that he could play a regulating role within the commission, helping to ensure it relied on sound research.
He eventually agreed. Early on, he ran into trouble. He’d promised a CNN reporter that he’d let her know if there were any developments with the commission. When he fulfilled that promise, calling to tell the reporter that an initial meeting date had been set, he then got a call from Vice President Mike Pence’s counsel.
“If I’m going to give you information and you’re going to call CNN, we’re going to have a problem,” the lawyer told him….
Only a few months later, multiple issues began to boil over. In October, a researcher working for the commission was arrested on a child pornography charge. Dunlap didn’t even know who he was and couldn’t get anyone on the commission to answer questions about what had happened.
Then, Dunlap began to feel he was being deliberately left out of discussions for future commission meetings. He got a Facebook message from a congressional staffer, who asked Dunlap to call a cell phone number. The staff member told him he should retain outside lawyers, assuring him that Washington, D.C., was “rooting for” him, but the White House was going to go after him.
The staff member put him in touch with a former Obama Department of Justice lawyer.
“That was the only time in this process where I got a little bit scared and thought, ‘What have I stepped into?’” Dunlap said.
He ultimately sued.
“What I got was, ‘I’ll see you in court,’” he said of the reply from the White House. “I’m like, ‘I’m asking for the schedule, man.’”