May 11, 2017

MALDEF (Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund) is providing the following statement on today’s executive order establishing an advisory commission on voter fraud. Please attribute the statement to Thomas A. Saenz, MALDEF president and general counsel.

“Today’s executive order announcing the creation of a PAC (Presidential Advisory Commission) on Election Integrity would be laughable were it not for the ominous threat it poses to the essence of democracy. What was previewed in January as a ‘voter fraud’ commission is itself a fraud, right out the gate. Here are just some of the reasons:

  • Its suspicious timing undermines the PAC’s integrity. An order threatened and promised in January appears in May, in a week when the Trump Administration is desperately trying to divert attention from the firing of an FBI director in the midst of investigating the president and his team.
  • The primary rationale for the PAC has no credibility. Back in January, the nation’s huckster-in-chief premised the PAC's threatened creation on his completely unsupported, self-serving, and self-evidently ludicrous assertions that millions of fraudulent voters deprived him of a popular-vote majority.
  • The appointed PAC chair and vice chair have histories of support for voter suppression. Both Mike Pence and Kris Kobach have long supported legislative and other efforts to deter and prevent certain citizens from voting. Putting these guys in charge of investigating election integrity is a bit like asking Vladimir Putin to investigate whether Russia interfered in our elections.
  • The members named to the PAC inspire no confidence. The members lack diversity on every dimension, and the vice chair is perhaps one of the most incompetent lawyers practicing today, having cost cities and states that have adopted his loopy legislative proposals millions upon millions of dollars in fruitless court defense.
  • The language of the order creating the PAC plainly indicates that Trump knows this is a snipe hunt. Instead of tasking the PAC with proving the existence of widespread fraud in November 2016 or identifying significant fraud in voting anywhere, the executive order charges the PAC with investigating: practices that “enhance the American people’s confidence,” practices that “undermine the American people’s confidence,” and practices that “could lead to . . . improper voting.” This charge leaves the PAC plenty of room to postulate, speculate, and prognosticate, but no obligation to ground its work in any real problem or actual facts.

  • All by itself, today’s cynical PAC-creation executive order undermines respect for American democracy. The damage would be more severe if anyone takes the recommendations from the PAC for anything other than the self-serving imaginations they will be.

    Of course, the PAC is advisory to the president, so perhaps the PAC should be seen as more akin to the brothers Grimm. Enjoy the fairy tales to come, Mr. President. We won’t be fooled.”

    Founded in 1968, MALDEF is the nation's leading Latino legal civil rights organization. Often described as the "Latino Legal Voice for Civil Rights in America" MALDEF promotes social change through advocacy, communications, community education, and litigation in the areas of education, employment, immigrant rights, and political access. For more information on MALDEF, please visit: