Sitting in his office in Augusta decorated with a bearskin rug and a stuffed moose head, Maine Secretary of State Matt Dunlap seems relaxed as he talks about why he has taken a step that has drawn national attention. Dunlap is suing the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity. Interestingly enough, he's a member of that panel.
“I'm not grandstanding,” Dunlap told me. “I'm not looking for extra attention.” What he wants—and hopes to get through the lawsuit--is information about the commission, information that is neither sensitive nor classified. What is the commission working on? When will it meet again? What is its staff doing? For months Dunlap has asked. For months his queries have been met with silence. “I chaired the Marsh Island Community Deer Task Force and we had better access to more information on that task force than I have on a national presidential commission.”
Dunlap filed his lawsuit in October after a commission researcher was charged with possession of child pornography. Has this staffer been fired? Is he still getting paid? Again, the commission provided Dunlap with no answers.
President Trump created the commission early this year, in part to look into his assertion that he'd have won the popular vote in the 2016 election had it not been for voters who, he claimed, cast ballots illegally. Not one state has substantiated the president's claim. But the president hasn't backed away from his statement, which is why Dunlap considers it important that the commission carry out its work. “I believe quite firmly that if we don't answer those questions,” he says, “they're going to gather more strength.”