A Heritage Foundation employee lobbied Attorney General Jeff Sessions to exclude Democrats and mainstream Republicans from President Trump's voter fraud commission, according to recently released records.
The employee's email came to light as part of a Freedom of Information Act request from the Campaign Legal Center, a nonprofit focused on election laws.
The commission held its second meeting in New Hampshire on Tuesday. The meeting has been criticized for allowing testimony from members including Hans von Spakovsky of the Heritage Foundation, who has often said voter fraud has been widespread in past elections, despite no evidence.
"The employee wrote personally to Attorney General Jeff Sessions pushing back on even a single Democrat being named to the Presidential Commission on Election Integrity and discouraging the White House from naming mainstream Republican officials and/or academics to the commission," a statement from the organization said.
The employee's name in the Feb. 22 email was redacted by the Justice Department, but a spokesperson for the Heritage Foundation confirmed in an email to the Washington Examiner it was von Spakovsky and said the views expressed in the email are his own.
"Any commission tasked with looking at the integrity of our elections should be bipartisan and should not be trying to make voting harder," said Trevor Potter, president of Campaign Legal Center, and a former Republican chairman of the Federal Election Commission.
The email is the latest in a string of criticism for the commission, of which Sessions is not a formal member.
Last week, Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, the head of the commission, published an op-ed in Breitbart alleging over 5,000 votes were cast illegally in the 2016 election. New Hampshire House Speaker Shawn Jasper said he sought the statistics used by Kobach, a strong proponent of strict voter ID laws, for future changes to voter laws.
New Hampshire law allows people, such as out-of-state college students, to register without a state ID. It also allows people to register to vote on Election Day.
In response, New Hampshire Sens. Jeanne Shaheen and Maggie Hassan are calling on their state's secretary of state, Bill Gardner, to resign from the commission. Gardner is a Democrat.
"Now, the head of President Trump's misguided commission is using deceiving and irrelevant data to rehash the same false claims," the Democratic senators said in a statement. "Secretary Gardiner's association with this partisan commission risks tarnishing his long legacy of fighting for the New Hampshire Primary and promoting voter participation."
Hillary Clinton defeated Donald Trump in the state by 2,736 votes. Hassan defeated then-Republican Sen. Kelly Ayotte by 1,017 votes. The races prompted Trump to decry "millions" of illegal votes cast in the 2016 election, though there has been no evidence of widespread voter fraud presented.
Numerous states said they won't comply with the commission's request for voter registrations, which include the last four digits of Social Security numbers and other identifying information. Gardiner said he will send publicly available data to the administration.
Many Democrats, including Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, have called for an end to the commission entirely.
"This commission, and I would say particularly its vice chair, Mr. Kobach, are so eager to prove their point, which is virtually unprovable, that there's huge amounts of voter fraud that they come up with these baseless claims and then have to back off," Schumer said on the Senate floor Tuesday morning.
Other Democrats on the commission include Maine Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap, Former Arkansas State Representative David Dunn, and Alabama Judge Alan King.