Republicans on the House Oversight Committee put California Secretary of State Alex Padilla on notice Wednesday that they were investigating a potentially corrupt expedited contract that his office awarded to a pro-Biden public-relations firm to support spreading awareness of mail-in voting.
The $35 million contract granted to SKD Knickerbocker for the “Vote Safe California” campaign “will undoubtedly provide a partisan firm the opportunity to use taxpayer money to influence the federal election, said GOP Reps. James Comer of Kentucky, Jody Hice of Georgia and Rodney Davis of Illinois in a letter to Padilla.
“Additionally, there are serious questions about how the contract was awarded, whether the firm will have access to sensitive voter information, and if any of the firm’s employees affiliated with ‘Team Biden’ will be involved with the project.”
The firm is linked to Biden campaign consultant Josh Isay, a former campaign manager for Sen. Charles Schumer, D-NY.
Other staffers have close ties to former President Barack Obama and California Sen. Dianne Feinstein, both Democrats.
On its website, SKD Knickerbocker boasts of being a proud member of “Team Biden” and appears to have done $806K in public relations work for Biden’s campaign earlier this year.
Those services for the Biden campaign conveniently coincided with a sexual-assault allegation made against Biden by former staffer Tara Reade.
Another of SKD Knickerbocker’s partners, Hilary Rosen, also happened to be the founder of the Time’s Up Legal Defense Fund, which dealt a blow to Reade’s effort and cast aspersions on her credibility by refusing to fund a #MeToo lawsuit on her behalf, Breitbart reported.
Reade—a Democrat who supported Sen. Bernie Sanders—later became the subject of an innuendo-driven smear campaign that suggested, among other things, that she was a Russian operative.
The congressmen noted that Padilla’s move to give the partisan SKD Knickerbocker preferred status over two competing companies that did not tout their political connections “essentially provides a pro-Biden entity the opportunity to conduct get out the vote efforts.”
In doing so, the canvassing effort may skirt campaign-finance laws—an area in which Biden has falsely trumpeted himself as a reformer despite leading the race in dark money and donations from deep-pocketed billionaire mega-donors.
Adding insult to injury, this illicit campaign donation to Biden would come at the expense of unwitting California citizens, said the congressmen. “Unfortunately, this voter contact operation is being funded by taxpayers.”
The scandal had echoes of an earlier attempt in Michigan to award a no-bid contract to a Democrat-linked political consulting firm to provide coronavirus contract tracing on behalf of the state health department.
Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer initially denied any involvement or knowledge of the contract, pinning the blame on partisan health officials.
But public outrage forced the state to cancel the crony data-mining operation, which had been approved by the governor’s office.
A subsequent investigation by the GOP-led state legislature revealed that health officials had actively consulted a longtime political operative—now leading the Biden campaign’s state outreach—to solicit recommendations.
SKD Knickerbocker attempted to coyly deny the conflict in its California operations after the Sacramento Bee first reported on the arrangement.
“As a public affairs firm, a great deal of our work (including this Vote Safe campaign) is nonpartisan,” claimed Heather Wilson, the managing director and head of the firm’s California office.
But the GOP congressmen said the “expedited” awarding of the contract failed to pass the smell test and lacked transparency.
“According to the Sacramento Bee reporting, a group of six people in your office huddled together to determine the winning bid,” they wrote.
They noted the massive vote-fraud operations already underway in the state, such as California’s decision to mail ballots to everyone on its blatantly outdated voting rolls.
Those figures undoubtedly will be used to pad the popular vote tally in Biden’s favor in an effort to erode faith in the Electoral College system.
In fact, some Democratic operatives have said they intend to use the deceptive, ill-gotten popular vote to justify Biden’s refusal to concede should President Donald Trump win an Electoral College landslide.
The congressmen also raised red flags about the security of voter information, on the heels of a report that a “glitch” in a Biden get-out-the-vote app had given users access to sensitive voter data.
“It remains unclear whether SKD Knickerbocker will have access to sensitive voter information, including voter contact information, potentially allowing them to target individual voters who will likely be in possession of general election ballots.”
The state currently has no restrictions on ballot-harvesting, the controversial practice of allowing outside parties to collect absentee ballots from voters.
Moreover, they noted that, according to a Reuters report, SKD Knickerbocker had been subjected to a massive hacking effort to gain access to the firm’s data and use phishing attacks to attempt to steal passwords from its clients.
“Since the California Secretary of State’s office is a client of SKD Knickerbocker, these attempted hacks raises serious concerns about whether any data related to voter information is being targeted,” they wrote.
In addition to demanding a tranche of documents from Padilla, the congressmen planned to schedule a remote briefing with him no later than Sept. 25 to discuss the election integrity concerns.