On Thursday, June 17, 2021, in California Central District Court, attorney Rogan O'Handley filed a lawsuit against Twitter, California Senator Alex Padilla, Secretary of State (SoS) Shirley Weber, and others for the state's engineering with Twitter in permanently suspending him from its platform for tweeting concerns over the 2020 election.
The federal civil rights lawsuit—O'Handley v. Padilla et al.—filed by Dhillon Law Group, in conjunction with The Center for American Liberty, list "Team Biden" campaign consultant SKDK and the National Association of Secretaries of State as defendants. Speaking of the environment leading up to the case—and the fact Twitter, instructed by the CA Office of Elections Cybersecurity, discriminately removed tweets posted by conservative social media influencers criticizing Biden and questioning the legitimacy of the 2020 election—attorneys representing O'Handley point out:
"In 2018, the state government of California created the Office of Elections Cybersecurity to 'educate voters' with 'valid information' on election laws and procedures. And as any sensible person could predict, this office quickly devolved into a political weapon for censorship by the far-left Secretary of State's Office, more resembling a Harry Potter-like 'Ministry of Approved Election Information' than a constitutionally governed state agency."
A Freedom of Information Request recently uncovered a cache of emails revealing Alex Padilla, who was California Secretary of State at the time, directly coordinated with Democratic political consulting firm SKDK and Twitter to permanently suspend users who were critical of Padilla's job in conducting elections. One such user was Rogan O'Handley, who Twitter permanently suspended in Feb. 2021 for "violating rules about election integrity" for tweeting "Most votes in American History."
Dhillon explained to Tucker Carlson that her client Rogan O'Handley was "caught up in this dragnet for perfectly legitimate and honest opinions and commentary about seeking audits about these elections and in retaliation for that, he was removed from the Twitter platform. This is a violation of the First Amendment. It is a Civil Rights conspiracy. It also violates the California Constitution." Calling the actions by Twitter and Padilla outrageous, Dhillon noted that government cannot censor speech based on viewpoint. But yet, she said that is precisely what happened to O'Handley. She added:
"Big tech companies have been using the 'private company' narrative to skirt First Amendment protections as they aggressively purge conservative voices from their platforms, but now we've seen the 'smoking gun' that Democratic political operatives and Democratic elected officials at the highest levels have been working hand-in-glove with these companies to suppress political dissenters. This is wholly un-American, and we are looking forward to fighting this injustice."
In October 2020, Padilla awarded a questionable $35 million voter outreach contract with "Team Biden" consulting firm SKDK with clear ties to the Democratic Party—Anita Dunn, SKDK's managing director, was a senior strategist for Biden's campaign. Republican state Controller Betty Yess refused to pay the invoice saying it violated California state rules. In February 2021, the Democratic-led legislature approved a state budget amendment intended to allow the payment. Commenting about the misgivings that fueled his legal claim, O'Handley said:
"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. 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."
Nov. 12, 2020 message to Twitter from a SoS or staff member regarding Mr. O'Handley's post. Screenshot / Case 2:21-cv-04954
O'Handley's lawsuit against the Big-Tech monopoly follows one filed in April by Project Veritas founder James O'Keefe, whose claim states Twitter falsely accused him of operating fake accounts when it permanently banned him from the platform. The complaint (the latest update on the case can be found here) states:
“The false accusation that Mr. O’Keefe operated ‘fake accounts’ is particularly damaging for Mr. O’Keefe because Mr. O’Keefe is a journalist. As such, his reputation for transparency and accurate reporting is fundamental to his profession.”
In announcing the lawsuit, the Center for American Liberty and Dhillon Law Group commented on the importance of the case at hand and the current attack on First Amendment Rights, declaring:
"Whether it is for Rogan O'Handley or for any other American, the First Amendment must be protected. Political speech—the right to express ideas and engage in the political process—is core to the First Amendment; it is sacrosanct. That is why this case, O'Handley v. Padilla, is so important. If we are ever going to have free and fair elections again, we have to stop Big Tech collusion with Big Government to censor your speech."