DENVER – U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet is doubling down on President Trump’s election integrity commission, and is now calling for the U.S. Government Accountability Office to probe the panel.
Bennet, a Colorado Democrat, along with Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., and Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., sent a letter to the GAO Wednesday requesting the investigation while questioning the motives of the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity.
The commission was created in May after Trump’s repeated, but unsubstantiated, claims that millions of people voted illegally in last year’s election.
Many Democrats and some Republicans have said the panel’s quest to get voter-roll information from every U.S. state has led to voter suppression, though Colorado’s secretary of state, Wayne Williams, complied with the request and tamped down fears that the information would be used to target certain voters.
But more than 5,000 people in Colorado withdrew their voter registrations in response to the commission’s request, which angered Bennet and led him to call for the commission to be disbanded entirely in July.
At the time, he said the commission was “wasteful and harmful” and was formed only “as the result of delusion, conspiracy theories, and truly ‘fake news.’” He and Booker have also filed legislation that would require the GAO to audit the commission.
In his Wednesday letter, he said previous efforts to clarify the commission’s activities have been ignored, but that some information released through open records requests and in court documents “are cause for serious concern.”
“Investigative reports raise questions about the partisan motives and actions of the commission,” the letter reads. “Without any [commission] response to congressional inquiries, we fear that the manner in which the [commission] is conducting its work will prevent the public from a full and transparent understanding of the commission’s conclusions and unnecessarily diminish confidence in our democratic process.”
The senators ask that the GAO look into several things involving the commission: the amount of federal funding paid to the commission’s efforts and staffers; what the commission has done to address voter participation; the background information the commission is using in its analyses; its methodology; the steps it has taken to protect voter-roll information; and its adherence to federal regulations.
The senators ask the GAO to complete its investigation within six months of the commission’s termination, though the exact date of that is unclear. The president’s executive order says the commission will be terminated within 30 days of submitting its report to President Trump.
But Bennet, Klobuchar and Booker write that they sent the letter now because “GAO may need to take steps in advance of the [commission’s] completion to ensure [it has] the information necessary to provide a fully informed review.”
The GAO has yet to respond to the senators’ letter.