WASHINGTON (AP/WIBW) — President Donald Trump has signed an executive order disbanding his voter fraud commission, which was led by Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach.
United States President Donald J. Trump departs after making remarks at the first meeting of the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity, flanked by the Commissions Vice Chair Chris Kobach (left) and Chairman, US Vice President Mike Pence (right) at The White House in Washington, DC, July 19, 2017. Credit: Chris Kleponis / CNP - NO WIRE SERVICE - Photo by: Chris Kleponis/picture-alliance/dpa/AP Images
A White House statement Wednesday evening blamed the decision on numerous states that have refused to provide voter information to the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity.
However, it does not end the investigation.
White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders says that, "Rather than engage in endless legal battles at taxpayer expense," Trump has signed an order to dissolve the commission and asked the Department of Homeland Security to determine the administration's next steps.
Kobach said the action is a "tactical change" and a "handoff" of the investigation. He said he is in regular contact with the Trump administration and expects to continue to work closely with them on election fraud issues.
"What's happened is basically the investigation is moving forward more efficiently and faster now, so if anyone on the left thinks they've won and thinks that voter fraud won't be investigated - which was their objective - they're sadly mistaken. All that's happened is they've lost their seat at the table," Kobach told 13 NEWS.
Critics saw the commission as part of a conservative campaign to strip minority voters and poor people from the voter rolls, and to justify unfounded claims made by Trump that voter fraud cost him the popular vote in 2016.
Kobach said various lawsuits have slowed the commission's work to the point it could not function. He said Homeland Security will now be able to start moving foward in key areas, such as comparing voter rolls to its list of people known to be in the country illegally.
Past studies have found voter fraud to be exceptionally rare.
Kobach is among nearly a dozen Republican candidates for Kansas governor. One of his opponents, former state Rep. Mark Hutton, issued a statement calling Kobach's work on the commission "political stunt-making" which "accomplished nothing other than embarrassing himself on the Kansas taxpayer dime."