President Donald Trump's controversial Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity requested records for all Texas voters whose surnames are flagged as Hispanic.
The request was made by policy adviser Ron Williams, who check a box asking for “Hispanic surname flag notation” when asking for nearly 50 million records from the state.
According to officials, the information was never sent due to a lawsuit filed by voting rights advocates that barred the state from sending any records at all.
Documents obtained by Missouri Democrat Senator Claire McCaskill show the commission had paid for voter records from some states that refused to provide them for free. Among the files was an invoice for $3,437.30 to be paid to obtain data on 49.6 million registered voters in Texas, including the details of those with Hispanic surnames.
Kris Kobach, Republican vice-chair of the commission, said no authorization had been given to Williams to make the request:
“Mr Williams did not ask any member of the commission whether he should check that box or not, so it certainly wasn’t a committee decision”.
Mr Kobach said the data “does not, did not advance the commission’s inquiry in any way, and this is the first I’ve heard [that] the Texas files included that.”
The commission, which Trump launched after claiming without evidence that millions of people voted illegally in the 2016 presidential election, was disbanded earlier this year.
Announcing the disbandment on 3 January, the White House said: “Despite substantial evidence of voter fraud, many states have refused to provide the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity with basic information relevant to its inquiry.