Conservative political commentator and attorney Rogan O’Handley is suing former California Secretary of State and now U.S. Senator Alex Padilla, current Calif. SoS Shirley Weber, Twitter, Team Biden campaign consultants SKDK, and others, for coordinating to deplatform him from Twitter after he tweeted his concerns about the 2020 election.
The Center for American Liberty in conjunction with the Dhillon Law Group, Inc. filed the federal civil rights lawsuit on Thursday in the United States District Court in Central California.
O’Handley spent years developing a verified Twitter account with 440,000 followers only to find his account permanently suspended at the direction of the Secretary of State’s office, according to a press release from Center for American Liberty.
“For far too long, Big Tech has avoided accountability for their blatant censorship of conservatives, but that’s going to change because we now have smoking gun evidence showing that they were acting as agents of the government,” O’Handley said in the release. “These are the types of infringements that the 1st Amendment was specifically designed to protect against. This case is for the millions of conservatives across America who are censored by social media with no repercussion. This is for every American’s right to free speech. This is for our constitution.”
Judicial Watch in April released a trove of 540 documents, obtained through California’s Open-Record’s Act, that revealed how Padilla directly colluded with Democratic political consulting firm SKDK and Twitter to permanently suspend users who were critical of Padilla’s job of conducting elections.
“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 stated after the documents were released.
According to the Complaint, Padilla awarded a $35-million-dollar contract to facilitate the office’s “Vote Safe California” initiative to the Defendant SKDKnickerbocker (“SKDK”), a political consulting firm heavily involved in then-candidate Joe Biden’s presidential campaign.
The corrupt contract between SKDK and the State of California reportedly became so controversial, the state Controller Betty Yee refused to pay their $35 million invoice, citing that it violated state rules. According to the Center for American Liberty, the Democratic super-majority California State legislature ended up paying the invoice through a budget allocation.
The Judicial Watch documents show that the California Secretary of State’s Office of Elections Cybersecurity (OEC) flagged one of O’Handley’s tweets to Twitter through dedicated channels purportedly created to “streamline censorship requests from government agencies.”
The complaint exposes how Twitter dutifully complied with the OEC’s censorship requests by promptly removing O’Handley’s tweets, banning his account, and offering to do more if needed.
— Election Wizard (@Wizard_Predicts) June 18, 2021
One of these documents is an email from Sam Manhood, Press Secretary for then-California Secretary of State Alex Padilla, to Twitter employee Kevin Kane that appears to refer to this dedicated channel as “the partner portal.”
In the email, Manhood flagged a tweet from another Twitter user that was previously reported through this partner portal and stated: “We would like this tweet taken down ASAP to avoid the spread of election misinformation.”
Kane responded the next day, confirmed the tweet had been removed, and added: “Please don’t hesitate to contact me if there’s anything else we can do.”
California Democrats have access to a rapid response team at Twitter, which takes down tweets at the request of Democrats. pic.twitter.com/czsJm9XBE7
— Father’s Day Fan Account Cernovich (@Cernovich) June 18, 2021
Another email shows a “Misinformation Daily Briefing” from the consulting firm SKDKnickerbocker. In these daily briefings, SKDKnickerbocker flagged alleged “misinformation” to the OEC. The OEC then flagged these posts to Big Tech companies via their partner portals.
This Misinformation Daily Briefing cites one of O’Handley’s tweets and a supporting document shows the tweet being flagged to Twitter via the partner portal.
“Prior to OEC requesting Twitter censor the Post, Twitter had never before suspended Mr. O’Handley’s account or given him any strikes. He suddenly became a target of Twitter’s speech police, at the behest of Defendants,” the lawsuit states.
After this tweet was flagged on November 17, 2020, several of O’Handley’s other tweets were flagged in the subsequent months and his account was suspended after a February 22, 2021 tweet where he posted a photo of the barbed wire fences in Washington DC along with the caption: “Most votes in American history.”
In addition to these emails that showcase the direct censorship partnership between Twitter and the OEC, the lawsuit also contains documents and statements referencing the scale of censorship that occurred as a result of these partnerships.
One of these documents shows a reference to the results of the VoteSure campaign – an initiative launched by Padilla to “address misinformation.”
According to the document, the OEC “discovered nearly 300 erroneous or misleading social media posts that were identified and forwarded to Facebook and Twitter to review and 98 percent of those posts were promptly removed for violating the respective social media company’s community standards.”
Padilla has openly admitted that most of the posts the partnerships flag are removed by Big Tech, the lawsuit points out.
“We worked in partnership with social media platforms to develop more efficient reporting procedures for potential misinformation. Misinformation identified by our office or voters was promptly reviewed and, in most cases, removed by the social media platforms.
O’Handley’s lawyer Harmeet Dhillon appeared on Fox News’ “Tucker Carlson Tonight” with her client to discuss the lawsuit.
“Judicial Watch documents reveal a stunning and broad conspiracy by government agencies, Democrat lobbying firms, and a national association of Secretaries of State to gather so-called dangerous election related speech, work with Twitter and potentially other social media companies, and get that speech taken down in the name of fairer and cleaner elections,” Dhillon explained.
“Our client Rogan O’Handley was caught up in this dragnet for perfectly legitimate and honest opinions, and commentary about seeking audits for these election, and in retaliation for that, he was removed from the Twitter platform, she continued. “This is a violation of the 1st Amendment, it’s a Civil Rights conspiracy, it also violates the California Constitution, and I think once we start getting into discovery in this case, we’re going to find out this is a lot more widespread than what just happened to Rogan.”
O’Handley pithily explained what happened to him: “I said, hey, let’s look at California elections, and then, Alex Padilla, the Secretary of State. It was a criticism of his actions in office, and then he paid this firm SKDK to tell him who to censor. That was me.”
“A politician says ‘someone’s criticizing me—shut them down,'” Carlson replied incredulously.