WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, America First Legal (AFL) filed five public records requests about Arizona government agencies’ social media communications and takedown requests. The requests were filed with the Center for Internet Security, Coconino County, Maricopa County, Pima County, and the Arizona Secretary of State’s Office.
In recent elections, various arms of the federal and State governments–including from Arizona–have involved themselves in the policing of what they term “misinformation,” “disinformation,” and “malinformation.” Government officials – including the Secretary of State’s Office and Arizona county election officials – were able to report “misinformation” to the Elections Infrastructure Information Sharing & Analysis Center (“EI-ISAC”), which is an organization of state and local government officials coordinated by the Center for Internet Security (“CIS”).
The EI-ISAC and CIS, then relayed the censorship requests to the social media platforms. Arizona state and local government officials have also sent reports of “misinformation” directly to social media platforms for censorship. The end result has been that State and local government officials urged, pressured, and coerced social media platforms to monitor and censor disfavored speakers and content. This censorship, of course, could have had a direct impact on the outcome of recent elections in Arizona.
CIS is organized as a non-profit organization, but it is still subject to Arizona’s public records laws because Arizona courts have held that when a public body in Arizona that is subject to the PRL “outsource[s] its important … function” to a private entity, then that entity’s “documents with a substantial nexus to government activities qualify as public records.” If an Arizona government agency had directly removed online political speech protected by the federal and Arizona constitutions, records of that suppression of free speech would be subject to public records requests. Thus, CIS’s censorship actions on behalf of Arizona government entities are subject to Arizona’s public record law.
These activities are brazenly unlawful and unconstitutional. Last year, AFL filed a federal class action lawsuit against key persons and entities involved in the so-called “Election Integrity Partnership” and the “Virality Project,” on behalf of Jill Hines, the co-Director of Health Freedom Louisiana, and Jim Hoft, the founder the popular news website The Gateway Pundit.
This government censorship regime only came to light through AFL’s tireless efforts through Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests and a lawsuit that forced the Biden Administration to produce secret communications of administration officials colluding with social media companies to censor free speech.
Censoring lawful free speech is antithetical to American ideals as outlined in the Constitution. America First Legal will continue to investigate any attempt to undermine the First Amendment and silence the American people.
Statement from James Rogers, America First Legal Counsel:
“Freedom of speech is a core American principle that is the foundation for so many of our other rights and liberties. No government official should ever get involved in policing what American citizens can and can’t say online. Arizona’s elections play an outsized role in national politics right now. State and county officials who have been trying to suppress citizens’ free speech are also unconstitutionally trying to meddle in elections. That sort of activity needs to stop, and these public records requests will help shine a light on the extent of their past activities.” said James Rogers.
Read the five compiled requests here.
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