Hobbs’ Social Media Communications Revealed, Big Tech Committee To Provide Oversight

August 14, 2023

By Daniel Stefanski |

The legislative session may be over for the duration of the year in Arizona, but lawmakers are still working on behalf of their constituents.  

On Thursday, Arizona House Speaker Ben Toma “announced the creation of a new Ad Hoc Committee on Oversight, Accountability, and Big Tech to learn about emerging legal and constitutional issues surrounding censorship by government officials and social media interference, big tech manipulation of internet platforms, and the use of artificial intelligence.”  

Freshman Republican Representative Alexander Kolodin was appointed by the Speaker to lead the interim committee as its chair. Speaker Toma also named Representative Neal Carter to the panel. At least one Democrat is expected to be added in the near future.  

Kolodin released the following statement in conjunction with the announcement, saying, “Fighting for the First Amendment is an American’s highest calling. With this new committee, I am excited to have the opportunity to do so on behalf of the people of Arizona.”  

According to the news release from the Arizona House of Representatives, “the Committee will hold its first public meeting on September 5, 2023, at the State Capitol to hear from leading experts in the fields of focus and to learn more about how potential legislation should be crafted to protect Arizonans’ constitutional rights, including their rights to free speech guaranteed by the U.S. and Arizona Constitutions. The Committee will also explore the proper role of state officials and conduct relevant investigations to ensure that executive officers are fulfilling their constitutional duties.”  

The announcement about this new committee follows a report earlier that day from Arizona Capitol Oversight, which released government emails from then-Secretary of State Katie Hobbs’ Office, showing that she (and at least two staffers) sent communications to Twitter Support in hopes of the social media platform taking restrictive actions against other accounts with dissenting or unfavorable rhetoric. The Office was also requesting similar actions from the Center for Internet Security and Facebook on other posts.  

Among many attempts to plead with social media platforms to censor opposing viewpoints, Hobbs’ Office took aim at one November 2020 Facebook post from Senator-elect Kelly Townsend over an election-related post, calling it “misinformation” in the subject line and transmitting screenshots and links of the lawmaker’s account. Facebook refused to remove the post, but the reviewers did place a banner below the post that linked to the platform’s Voting Information Center.  

Arizona Capitol Oversight concluded its exclusive report by stating that “a number of items within the 100+ pages of emails obtained are auto-generated responses from social media companies confirming that they had received complaints and takedown requests from Hobbs’s government office. The specific demands made by Hobbs and her staff in those complaints/requests – likely submitted to Facebook and Twitter through a back-end portal – are unknown… for now.”

Arizona Republicans were quick to react to the breaking news about the Hobbs’ emails. Former Republican nominee for Attorney General in 2022, Abe Hamadeh, tweeted, “Katie Hobbs utter disregard for the rule of law didn’t just start with censorship. She withheld evidence from the court – and then sought sanctions against me for daring to contest the closest race in AZ history with 9,000 uncounted ballots. This is corruption & an abuse of power.”  

Kari Lake, the Republican’s nominee for Governor in 2022, said, “HUGE: Official emails EXPOSE Katie Hobbs’ corruption in the 2022 election. Not only did she run her own election, but she was actively using her office to CENSOR Kari Lake & the AZGOP. Hobbs attempted to silence our movement to manipulate the outcome of an election. She needs to be held accountable for it.”  

  The Arizona Freedom Caucus Account also chimed in, writing, “ABUSE OF POWER!”  

Daniel Stefanski is a reporter for AZ Free News. You can send him news tips using this link.

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