Democratic Election Official Tried To Censor Ted Cruz By Partnering With Government-Funded Nonprofit: House Report

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An official in the office of Pennsylvania’s Democratic secretary of state tried to censor Republican Texas Sen. Ted Cruz ahead of the 2022 midterm elections by working with a government-funded nonprofit, according to a House Judiciary report released Monday.

Sen. Cruz posted on Facebook and Twitter about ballot counting Oct. 27, 2022, when early voting for the midterm elections was already underway. “Why is it only Democrat blue cities that take ‘days’ to count their votes? The rest of the country manages to get it done on election night,” Cruz tweeted in reference to a New York Post article.

A government official working for Pennsylvania’s Department of State reported Cruz’s posts to the Elections Infrastructure Information Sharing and Analysis Center (EI-ISAC) with the Center for Internet Security (CIS), a nonprofit funded by the Cybersecurity Infrastructure and Security Agency (CISA) within the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), according to the House Judiciary Committee’s report. The official’s name is redacted in the House report.

EI-ISAC describes itself as a “community of dedicated election officials and cybersecurity professionals working side-by-side to ensure the integrity of elections,” on its website.

“This post is misleading to voters. It is insinuating that because election results are not available on election night, something nefarious is happening in the counting process,” the PA Department of State’s Digital Director wrote in an email to EI-ISAC shortly after Cruz’s post went up, according to the House report. The official used their government email when flagging Cruz’s post for EI-ISAC to act on. (RELATED: Jim Jordan Presses Biden Admin For Documents Showing Alleged Online Censorship Scheme)

EI-ISAC forwarded the email about Ted Cruz’s post to Facebook and cc’d four PA government officials on the email chain, the House report shows. “The CISA-funded EI-ISAC also facilitated a Democratic state government official’s attempt to censor core political speech by a sitting Republican U.S. Senator,” the report reads.

It’s unclear if Facebook acted on Ted Cruz’s post, which is still visible on his Facebook page. Meta, the platform’s parent company, did not respond to the Daily Caller’s request for comment.

Twitter’s community notes added context about election projections and ballot counting beneath Cruz’s Oct. 27 post. Twitter owner Elon Musk and CEO Linda Yaccarino have said the platform is committed to free speech.

“Big Government and Big Tech have been working together for years to stifle free speech on social media platforms. The fact that a Democrat state government official tried to use government and tech to censor my remarks highlights the Left’s disregard for the constitutional rights of Americans, and contempt for anyone’s views except their own,” Cruz told the Daily Caller.

“I’m continuing my own investigation through the Commerce Committee to look at government-tech collusion so that these institutions are held accountable to Texans and Americans.” (RELATED: Ted Cruz Announces Sweeping Oversight Investigation Of Big Tech Firms’ Censorship Practices)

Democratic official Leigh Chapman, an appointee of former Democratic state Gov. Tom Wolf, ran Pennsylvania’s Department of State from Jan. 2022-Jan. 2023. The PA Department of State did not respond to the Caller’s request for comment.

The House Judiciary Committee and the Select Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government revealed the censorship attempt as part of its report about how CISA allegedly censored Americans by working with tech platforms and “disinformation” nonprofits. CISA is spending $27 million in fiscal year (FY) 2024 on EI-ISAC and the Multi-State Information Sharing and Analysis Center, the sister organization of EI-ISAC within CIS, according to the House report and the DHS budget overview. DHS’s budget justification for CISA providing funds to the EI-ISAC makes no mention of “disinformation” or “misinformation” for FY2024.

The agency’s budgets for FY2022 and FY2023 cite “situational awareness, best practices, information sharing, and operational response” as part of a “Cooperative Agreement” for CISA to fund the EI-ISAC and MS-ISAC within CIS. CISA also has a toolkit for state and local election officials to respond to “the threats of misinformation, disinformation, and malinformation” (MDM) across social media and traditional media.

The toolkit advises election officials about how foreign and domestic actors can spread perceived MDM to undermine elections. “MDM also may originate from domestic sources aiming to sow divisions and reduce national cohesion. Foreign and domestic actors can use MDM campaigns to cause anxiety, fear, and confusion. These actors are ultimately seeking to interfere with and undermine our democratic institutions,” the toolkit reads.

Additionally, CISA advises election officials to monitor the spread of information year-round, including information not directly related to the election process. In order to respond to apparent MDM, CISA tells election officials to build relationships with media outlets and develop protocols for responding to MDM. The agency suggests flagging posts to social media platforms and working with CIS to report alleged MDM in real time.

“The Center for Internet Security (CIS) was established to support the cybersecurity needs of the election subsector. The CIS can be leveraged to report real-time MDM via email at misinformation@cisecurity.org. Be sure to include links and screenshots, as well as details on the misinformation and your jurisdiction,” CISA’s toolkit advises.

Pennsylvania’s Democratic election official used the CIS email given by CISA to contact the EI-ISAC within CIS, according to the House report. The government official listed all of the details CISA’s toolkit says election officials should include when flagging MDM. Misinformation is defined by the CISA toolkit as false information not created or shared to cause harm. Disinformation is defined as information deliberately created to mislead people, and malinformation is defined as facts taken out of context.

CISA was originally founded in 2018 under former President Donald Trump to address cybersecurity threats and alleged foreign election meddling.

CISA does not and has never censored speech or facilitated censorship; any such claims are patently false,” CISA Executive Director Brandon Wales told the Caller in a statement. “Every day, the men and women of CISA execute the agency’s mission of reducing risk to U.S. critical infrastructure in a way that protects Americans’ freedom of speech, civil rights, civil liberties, and privacy.”

“In response to concerns from election officials of all parties regarding foreign influence operations and disinformation that may impact the security of election infrastructure, CISA mitigates the risk of disinformation by sharing information on election literacy and election security with the public and by amplifying the trusted voices of election officials across the nation,” Wales added.

CIS denied any partisan influence over its work as a conduit between election officials and social media companies.

“The Center for Internet Security (CIS) works side by side with all election officials, regardless of political affiliation, to promote the integrity and security of elections across the country,” CIS told the Caller in a statement. “At the request of the election community, the Elections Infrastructure Information Sharing and Analysis Center (EI-ISAC), a Congressionally-funded organization operated by CIS, undertook an initiative in 2020 to serve as a conduit for election offices to report factually incorrect information about election administration to social media companies.”

“This effort was under the direction of the prior administration,” the statement continued. “Based on positive feedback from the election community, this same support was continued by CIS in the 2022 midterm election cycle. The reporting by elections officials was focused on potential violations of social media company terms of service and was conducted without consideration of party or partisanship. All decisions to retain, annotate, or remove content were made solely by the social media companies.”