Saturday, September 23, 2023

WATCHDOG: Calif. Officials Colluded w/ Big Tech over Pre-Election Censorship

'I am not necessarily comfortable with his line of questions and the additional doors that this will open...'

More than 540 pages of documents newly obtained by Judicial Watch revealed that Democrat officials in California had conspired with tech companies to censor dissent in the lead-up to last year’s election

These new documents suggest a conspiracy against the First Amendment rights of Americans by the California Secretary of State, the Biden campaign operation, and Big Tech,” Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton said in a recent press release.

It obtained the documents through California’s open-records act.

“These documents blow up the big lie that Big Tech censorship is ‘private’—as the documents show collusion between a whole group of government officials in multiple states to suppress speech about election controversies,” Fitton said.

The conservative-leaning government accountability watchdog was surprised to find that it was among those named in the campaign to suppress opposing viewpoints that California officials deemed to be ‘disinformation.’

The office of then-Secretary of State Alex Padilla, now a US senator, sought to remove a Judicial Watch video on YouTube that exposed the ways in which California’s refusal to update its voter rolls and suspicious ballot-harvesting efforts were likely to undermine the election outcome.

We wanted to flag this YouTube video because it misleads community members about elections or other civic processes and misrepresents the safety and security of mail-in ballots,” claimed a Sept. 24 correspondence between the state’s Office of Election Cybersecurity and the Google-owned video platform. 

YouTube apparently deleted the video three days later.

Also embroiled in the scandal was SKD Knickerbocker (recently rebranded as SKDK), a highly partisan leftist firm to which Padilla had controversially granted a no-bid contract for get-out-the-vote educational efforts.

While working in that supposedly nonpartisan capacity, the firm also was supplying Padilla’s office with a “Misinformation Daily Briefing” to flag conservative criticism for censorship.

Among the so-called falsehoods it identified was a fairly self-evident comment tweeted by Fitton that “Mailing 51 million ballots to those who haven’t asked for increases risk of voter fraud and voter intimidation!”

The evidence obtained by Judicial Watch also revealed that Padilla’s office discussed how to cover up its alarming tracking and censorship efforts after reporters began asking questions about those.

After insisting that CalMatters reporter Fred Brewster mail his questions in advance—itself a violation of protocol in many newsrooms—press secretary Sam Mahood refused to answer them.

I am not necessarily comfortable with his line of questions and the additional doors that this will open,” she wrote in an email to chief counsel Steve Reyes and other state officials. “I want to get your feedback I would simply like to give him a statement about what our goal is and leave it at that.”

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