Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) pushed the application of Russian hysteria into new territory Sunday, claiming in a tweet that President Donald Trump’s creation of the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity is “exactly what Vladimir Putin wants.”
Trump created the commission, tasked with investigating possible voter fraud and ensuring the integrity of U.S. elections, with an executive order on May 11.
“[email protected]’s voter fraud commission wants to suppress the right to vote and discredit our Democratic process. Exactly what Vladimir Putin wants,” Durbin, the Senate’s second-highest ranking Democrat, tweeted Sunday.
Durbin was responding to an op-ed published Thursday in The Washington Post called “Kobach is a ‘useful idiot’ for Russia.”
Kris Kobach, Kansas’ secretary of state and the vice chairman of the commission, has come under increasing fire from democrats and the Left. Post writer Jennifer Rubin claimed Kobach and Vice President Mike Pence lead a “widely ridiculed group supposed to investigate millions of illegal voters, whom the president seems to believe cast votes for Hillary Clinton” while appearing “to be a thinly veiled effort to ratchet up voting restrictions.”
Fearing that Kobach’s “babbling” will serve to “rationalize voter-suppression measures based on nonexistent voter fraud,” Rubin wrote that “Kobach and others on the commission play the role of useful idiot for Russia.”
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“After all, Russia’s larger plan is to discredit Western democracies and treat our open and free elections as no more legitimate than Vladimir Putin’s rigged system,” Rubin wrote. “Trump, and now Kobach, do Putin’s handiwork far more effectively than he ever dreamed. Along with the Trump flunkies at Fox News, they take Russia’s side in its assault on Western democracies’ free and fair elections.”
“Illinois’ voter rolls are a big-league factor for why the commission exists.”
One watchdog that seeks to uphold the integrity of elections said Durbin has particularly little ground to stand on, seeing as his state is among the worst offenders toward keeping clean voter rolls.
“The Illinois senator has little credibility to speak out on this matter, given that his home state has 17 counties with more registered voters than residents,” Logan Churchwell, the communications director for the Public Interest Legal Foundation, told LifeZette in an email. “Illinois’ voter rolls are a big-league factor for why the commission exists.”
Churchwell pointed to PILF’s list of counties that contain more registered voters than people of voting age who live there. PILF’s website describes the foundation as a “public-interest law firm dedicated entirely to election integrity,” that “exists to assist states and others to aid the cause of election integrity and fight against lawlessness in American elections.”
Although Durbin claimed that Trump “wants to suppress the right to vote and discredit our democratic process” in his tweet, the White House’s statement announcing the commission’s creation said it “will study vulnerabilities in voting systems used for federal elections that could lead to improper voter registrations, improper voting, fraudulent voter registrations, and fraudulent voting.”
“The commission will also study concerns about voter suppression, as well as other voting irregularities,” the statement added. “The commission will utilize all available data, including state and federal databases.”
Many states and counties have balked at the idea of turning over their voting records for the commission’s use.
Last week, a group of Democratic lawmakers sent a letter demanding Pence remove Kobach from the commission.
That letter was preceded by a letter signed by 70 lawmakers urging Kobach to withdraw his request for large swaths of voter registration data.
In an interview with Breitbart News Daily on Friday, Kobach noted that the commission has been slapped with an unprecedented seven lawsuits.
“President Obama had 28 presidential commissions. President Bush had 24. None of them were hit by seven lawsuits, and only a couple, a very small number of commissions, saw any litigation at all,” he said. “There seems to be a strategy by the plaintiffs to stop the commission in its tracks … They tried to stop the first meeting. Their arguments were very flimsy, and the U.S. district courts rejected them. Now they’re trying to stop the commission from collecting voter information, voter rolls that are publicly available in the states.”