President Trump’s eldest son is headlining a fundraiser in Kansas next week for Republican gubernatorial hopeful Kris Kobach, marking the Trump family’s entrance into a crowded race on behalf of a high-profile leader of the president’s controversial voter fraud commission.
Donald Trump Jr. is scheduled to appear in Overland Park, Kan., on Tuesday at a dinner and reception benefiting Kobach, currently Kansas's secretary of state.
Kobach serves as vice chairman of the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity, which Trump launched in the wake of his baseless claim that illegally cast ballots cost him the popular vote in his election last year against Democrat Hillary Clinton.
Vice President Pence chairs the commission, but Kobach — who has aggressively pursued voter fraud cases in his state — is the driving force behind the 11-member panel and has presided over the substantive discussions at its meetings.
The Trump family’s involvement in the 2018 Kansas governor’s race is also notable because it is likely to include a Republican incumbent.
Kansas Lt. Gov. Jeff Colyer (R) is preparing to take the reigns from Gov. Sam Brownback (R), who was nominated by Trump in July to serve as ambassador at large for international religious freedom. Brownback plans to step down as governor once his appointment is confirmed by the Senate.
The White House did not immediately respond to questions about whether Trump Jr.’s appearance in Kansas next week signals that the president will also support Kobach over Colyer in a primary that includes a host of other Republican contenders as well.
Individual tickets for Tuesday’s fundraiser start at $200, according to Kobach’s campaign website. For $1,000, donors can attend a “VIP reception” and have their picture taken with Trump Jr.
The voter fraud commission has proven a magnet for controversy, and it remains unclear when it will meet again. The panel is the subject of multiple lawsuits, including one from one of its Democratic members.
In a court filing Monday, a judge referenced a Justice Department lawyer’s representation that the commission had no plans to meet again by the end of the year. It previously has met publicly twice, in Washington in July and in New Hampshire in September.
The lawsuit from Maine Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap, one of the commission members, alleges that he has been kept in the dark about the commission’s operations, rendering his participation “essentially meaningless.”
Kobach has sought to refute Dunlap’s allegations, calling them “baseless and paranoid.”
The commission has also encountered other turbulence. At the September meeting, New Hampshire Secretary of State Bill Gardner, another Democrat on the panel, chastised Kobach for a piece he wrote for Breitbart News in which he alleged out-of-state voters could have tipped the U.S. Senate race in New Hampshire last year.
The commission’s work was also hindered by the arrest of a staff member last month on charges of possession of child pornography.