On July 3rd, we received a letter from the commission requesting publicly available information, and if publicly available, specific additional information.
On July 3rd, my office issued a press release explaining the letter and our thoughts on response including:
Detail of the different information that was being requested, how that information was handled by our office, and what information was specifically UN-available since it was considered personal and exempt under Idaho Public Record Law.
Our intent to take the response for that information which was already public under further advisement and consideration, but that NO information was going to be sent at this time.
On July 10, 2017, at 7:40am, I received notice from the Designated Federal Officer for the Commission, suspending its request for information. As such, no response was now necessary from our office.
On July 11th, at 1:30 pm, a full day after the request for information was suspended, the Idaho Democratic Party filed a lawsuit seeking a restraining order to bar us from sending information we weren’t sending, against a request that had been suspended.
One of the tenants of the suit was that the Democratic Party wanted to save tax payers from the “thousands of dollars” it would cost in preparing and responding to this request. They mention my time spent contemplating the request, that of the Governor, and of the Attorney general in advising us. Those are things that happen constantly in the course of our roles. We talk about issues. Those conversations aren’t unique to this request. It is what we are here for. It has also been suggested that it might take several staff hours to compile the list of information requested by the commission (should we choose to send any).
Another was the idea that private Idaho voter information would be sent over unsecured internet connections.
I had already said publicly that I would NOT release ANY private information. The only thing left to compile (if we were to respond) would be the publicly available voter list that we provided over 200 times in the last election cycle. That information is compiled automatically, and burned to a CD (not sent by email), a process for which we charge $20. The documents we use to process these requests are the Voter Registration Order Form and the Voter Registration Acknowledgement.
My original inclination was to file a request for dismissal and request sanctions on the Democratic Party for bringing such a frivolous suit in the first place.
Instead, on July 17, I took the less aggressive position of instead allowing the Democratic Party to dismiss their suit with a stipulation that we would notify them of any intent to respond, believing this to be in the best interest of the public.
As a thank you, the Democratic Party issued a July 18 press release titled “Idaho Dems Win Agreement from Secretary of State Not to Send Idaho Voter Info to Feds”
On their website, the press release lead-in reads:
The Idaho Democratic Party just stopped Secretary “Boss” Denney from sending any of your voting info to the Trump Election Commission.
The actual stipulation in the court documents filed for dismissal really says, “Defendant will give 10 days notice of his intention to respond to any information request from the Presidential Advisory Commission… upon receipt of, if any, ‘further instructions’” (referring to and acknowledging the fact that the request had been suspended…) Read it yourself. It is a public record, ironically.
A single phone call to my office by the Democratic Party prior to filing of this suit could have avoided the real waste of taxpayer dollars - the dollars that were spent for State Attorneys to debate a lawsuit arguing for relief from a request that had already been suspended, for which no private voter information was ever going to be provided.
On July 18th, I followed through with a sit down meeting, in my office, with Democratic Legislative Leadership. This meeting had been requested by these legislators to express their concerns around July 5th, and we had been working on scheduling the meeting well before the Democratic Party ever filed suit. This group of legislators chose the RIGHT way to share their viewpoint, and I welcomed their input.
Simply stated, the Idaho Democratic Party sued me to prevent me from doing the job that Idahoans elected me to do and that in fact, I had already done. I had already said on more than one occasion that no private information would be sent. If in fact a public record request were received, I am obligated under law to provide what information is publicly available. That hasn’t changed. Now the Democratic Party wants to say they “protected” you. You decide.
On July 27th, Secretary Denney received by email a new letter from the Commission renewing their initial request for public data and adding further clarifying details. A press release was issued to notify the public of the renewal of the request.