Dave Solomon's State House Dome: Trump election fraud commission has gone darkBy DAVE SOLOMON
December 03. 2017 4:02AM
New Hampshire's voter data has been ready for submission to President Donald Trump's commission on voter fraud for a month, but the commission appears to have no interest in receiving it, at least not for now.
Officials from the Secretary of State's Office have tried to find out how to submit the data, but no one on the commission staff has even responded to a phone call, let alone provided direction.
It seems that the state's voter data is all dressed up with nowhere to go.
Secretary of State Bill Gardner, a member of the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity, says he's not heard a word from anyone about the commission since it met at St. Anselm College on Sept. 12. "I think they have sort of hunkered down," he said on Friday.
The state has invested thousands of dollars in legal time at the Attorney General's Office to redact and prepare marked voter checklists for submission, and the Secretary of State's Office has spent hours on the project as well, not to mention the time invested in digitizing the thousands of pages for submission.
But the commission, launched with such fanfare earlier in the year, appears to have gone dark. The state reached out on Nov. 3 to Andrew Kossack, executive director of the commission, but never heard back. He did not respond to an email from the Sunday News, nor has he responded to other media and commission-member inquiries for weeks.
Gardner does not think the commission is fading away but is somewhat mystified by the lack of activity.
He speculates that it could be attributed to the October arrest of Ronald Williams II of Maryland on charges of possessing child pornography. Williams was the commission researcher handling the collection of voter data requested from the states, according to Gardner.
"It might just be that the commission is not going to be using (the data) for the time being, and the staff person who handles all this is the one who got arrested," he said.
Lawsuits filed against the commission by groups like Common Cause and the Electronic Privacy Information Center could also be holding up the process, Gardner said, although no judge has granted any injunctions stopping the commission from its activity. If the plan is to wait for the lawsuits to be resolved, that could be years away.
Maine Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap, like Gardner a Democrat, believes there is activity taking place, but certain commission members are being excluded from the conversations.
He sued the commission on Nov. 9 in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, claiming that the exclusion of some commission members is a violation of the federal law governing advisory committees.
"I think there is manifest evidence that people are working and talking but not talking to all of the commissioners," he said.
"I was hopeful that filing my complaint would shake something loose and give me the materials I was asking for. I'm not trying to derail the commission. I'm trying to become a functioning member of it. I'm not asking for classified information, just our working papers, and get nothing but silence."
For now, a commission designed to shed light on voting fraud is itself cloaked in darkness.
"If literally nothing is going on, my question is, why not?" said Dunlap. "The entire country is watching this. Why aren't we doing anything. That's a mysterious question, and I don't have an answer."
Try, try again
Proponents of a new state-funded job training and workforce development program will be back in January for another attempt at getting something passed, even though similar efforts failed last year and the year before that.
Sen. Dan Feltes, D-Concord, and Sen. Kevin Cavanaugh, D-Manchester, are behind the effort. Their legislative service request is similar to SB 227 of last year, which would have provided $500,000 annually to cover things like certificate programs and occupational skills training, with a priority on critical job vacancies.
There are no new taxes or fees in the new plan, which would draw from the Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund. That fund already dedicates a small amount of money to job training but would dedicate more under the new proposal.
House Republican Majority Leader Dick Hinch, R-Merrimack, has submitted legislation (HB 1100) to create a commission to "review and evaluate workforce and job training in New Hampshire."