The Donald Trump-appointed commission that's trying to assemble a massive trove of voter information has decided to hold off on asking states for the material
while a lawsuit challenging the effort is underway.
Too late, as you know, for Secretary of State Mark Martin
, who sent off Arkansas's information — including in many cases birth dates, street addresses, phone numbers and primary voting participation for 1.7 million people.
The lawsuit argues that the commission may have violated federal law.
The Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC), a watchdog group, has asked U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly to block the commission’s data request, arguing that the panel had not conducted the full privacy impact statement required by federal law for new government electronic data-collection systems.
I note that Gov. Asa Hutchinson, who'd earlier seemed to express no reservations
about providing information public by law, parted company with Martin yesterday
in an appearance at Governor's School, as reported in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.
"I am not a fan of providing any data to the commission in Washington," Hutchinson said in response to a student's question.
"Even though it is publicly available information and anyone can get it — all you have to do is file a Freedom of Information [Act] request to get the information — I just don't want to facilitate the providing of that information to a federal database. I don't think that's helpful for us."
A spokesman for Martin, Chris Powell, said in response that the governor is not the boss of the secretary of state.
"Secretary Martin complied with the law as he is required to do. Secretary Martin did not write the law that makes this information public. Furthermore, Arkansas has a voice on the bipartisan Presidential Commission on Election Integrity thanks to Secretary Martin, who nominated a Democrat to serve on the body, and he stands behind their efforts."
Some points on Powell's statement:
* Some legal questions exist about whether the request by the feds was lawful — or one of those nasty overreaches A.G. Leslie Rutledge is always talking about.
* The state Freedom of Information Act requires compliance only for
requests made by Arkansas citizens. Does a federal commission count?
* I guess Powell knows whereof he speaks in claiming support by lobbyist David Dunn's support for this data grab. Dunn is the former legislation Martin got on the commission through his pal Kris Kobach, the vote-suppressing secretary of state in Kansas. Dunn has refused numerous requests for his thoughts on this matter.
It could be that Gov. Hutchinson has read some of the dozens and dozens of outraged comments by Arkansas citizens about how freely Martin has shared their private information. See our Facebook post on the topic.
UPDATE: Chris Powell of the secretary of state's office told me late Tuesday afternoon that filings in the case challenging the data request indicate the Kobach commission has said it will "delete" the information it received from Arkansas. Powell said the office had not received written notice but said a member of the Commission staff had called to notify Arkansas of the intention to "delete" the material.