Maricopa County Recorder Advised DHS to Hold Media ‘Bootcamps’ to Moderate Speech

Maricopa County Recorder Advised DHS to Hold Media ‘Bootcamps’ to Moderate Speech

By Corinne Murdock |

Maricopa County Recorder Stephen Richer worked with the federal government to moderate speech, suggesting in one meeting that they hold “bootcamps” for media outlets to improve election reporting. Richer clarified to AZ Free News that he doesn’t advise or direct the actions of the federal government.

According to documents obtained by Trump’s 2024 campaign attorney Christina Bobb, Richer met with the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) Cybersecurity Advisory Committee (CSAC) Misinformation & Disinformation (MDM) Subcommittee in March. CISA is an agency of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). 

Richer cited The Gateway Pundit (TGP) reporting on a debunked claim that county election officials held an unannounced meeting as one example of misinformation. 

TGP sued Maricopa County last month, TGP Communications v. Sellers, for denying one of its reporters a press pass. On Monday, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ordered the county to issue the press pass while litigation continues. The court asserted that the county likely violated the First Amendment, finding that the county discriminated against TGP for its reporter’s political views.

This reporter asked Maricopa County for comment on the order to issue a press pass. The county responded that it doesn’t comment on ongoing litigation.

AZ Free News asked Richer about this collaboration with CISA, as well as his decision to delete the below tweet amid the ongoing lawsuit. Richer responded that his remarks to CISA weren’t unique from remarks that he’s shared with many other audiences. He added that the documents posted on Twitter summarized the topics he discussed.

“I don’t advise them on anything or direct any of their actions. I think they just wanted the perspective of an election administrator and what I try to do to share accurate voting information,” stated Richer.

As for the tweet, Richer explained that he occasionally deletes posts that he dislikes or believes to be unproductive in hindsight. He added that he doesn’t keep track of the posts he deletes or the reasons why he deleted them.

Richer told the MDM Subcommittee that the federal government and CISA had low credibility in rumor control. He advised that those with the most credibility were local community members, mainstream media, and social media companies like Twitter and Facebook.

Along with the misinformation and disinformation claims, Richer told CISA that some were guilty of “malinformation” by submitting too many public records requests. In its meeting summary, CISA characterized the increase in requests as an “abuse.”

“In 2019, Maricopa County received 30-40 public records requests. In 2021, they received over 350 requests ranging from requests to produce everything related to the 2020 election to all email communications related to elections, to all the rules and processes on how the elections are administered,” stated the report. “This example highlights how individuals can use lawful means to burden a system already stretched thin.”

Those leading the MDM Subcommittee meeting were Megan Tsuyi, designated federal officer for CSAC and MDM Subcommittee; Kate Starbird, a University of Washington professor and MDM Subcommittee chair; and Kim Wyman, CISA senior election security lead.

Others present at the meeting were Vijaya Gadde, the legal, public policy, and trust and safety lead for Twitter; and Suzanne Spalding, senior DHS advisor and director of Defending Democratic Institutions Center for Strategic and International Studies.

Corinne Murdock is a reporter for AZ Free News. Follow her latest on Twitter, or email tips to corinne@azfreenews.com.