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Probe Launched Into Trump Voter Fraud Panel

A government watchdog agency said it will investigate President Donald Trump’s voter fraud commission's funding, internal operations and data security methods.
Image: Manchester Voter Fraud Commission
Secretary of State of New Hampshire Bill Gardner (2nd-L) addresses the committee during the second meeting of the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity, at the New Hampshire Institute of Politics at Saint Anselm College on September 12, 2017 in Goffstown, New Hampshire.Kayana Szymczak / for NBC News

A federal watchdog agency will investigate President Donald Trump’s Election Integrity Commission, it was announced Thursday.

The Government Accountability Office plans to probe the voter fraud panel's funding, internal operations and how it is protecting and sorting the tens of millions of sensitive voter files the commission has collected.

The announcement comes after three Democratic senators — Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, Michael Bennet of Colorado and Cory Booker of New Jersey — sent a letter last week urging the agency to investigate the commission, saying it had ignored several requests from Congress aimed at understanding its work. The senators said the panel's creation and operations were "cause for serious concern.”

The senators wrote that they fear the way the commission is conducting its work will "prevent the public from full and transparent understanding of the commission’s conclusions and unnecessarily diminish confidence in our democratic process."

In a letter Wednesday to the lawmakers, the GAO said it had accepted the request. The agency said the investigation would begin in about five months.

Trump formed the commission in May through executive order to examine voter fraud.

It is headed by Vice President Mike Pence, while Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, an immigration hard-liner and strict voter identification law advocate, serves as vice chair.

Since its formation, the commission has been a source of criticism from members of both parties for requesting a massive amount of sensitive voter data.

The commission has also been mired in internal strife, with some members disagreeing on whether voter fraud exists, with two Democratic commission members openly accusing the panel's co-chairs of a lack of transparency.

Critics have called the commission a politically motivated effort to satisfy Trump’s unfounded claims about rampant voter fraud in the 2016 election.