Top House Admin & Oversight Republicans Call on EAC IG to Investigate CA’s Improper Use of CARES Act Funding

Oct 13, 2020
Press Release

WASHINGTON – Committee on House Administration Ranking Member Rodney Davis (R-Ill.) and House Committee on Oversight and Reform Ranking Member James Comer (R-Ky.), and Government Operations Subcommittee Ranking Member Jody Hice (R-Ga.) called on the U.S. Election Assistance Commission Inspector General to investigate the $35 million contract the California Secretary of State’s office fast-tracked to a pro-Biden consulting firm after obtaining documents that show potential violations of federal law, access to sensitive voter information, and conflicts of interest.

“We have an obligation to taxpayers to ensure federal funds are being spent in compliance with the law," said Davis. "We included $400 million in the CARES Act, passed in March, to help states prepare for the added costs of running elections during a national pandemic. I’m extremely concerned that Secretary Padilla has yet to spend this funding less than a month before the election and is now seemingly trying to spend it on GOTV efforts, which is explicitly prohibited by federal law, using a pro-Biden firm. It’s pretty telling that even the state’s Controller has refused to pay for the contract. Unfortunately, this is not the first time Secretary Padilla has ignored federal law. When he appeared before the House Administration Committee last month he was unable to tell me how many, if any, outdated voters have been removed from California’s voter rolls after being sued for failing to comply with the National Voter Registration Act.”
 
“Something is rotten in the state of California,” said Comer. “Not only was this shady contract fast-tracked to a blatant pro-Biden consulting firm, new information reveals it likely violates federal law and Democratic operatives are running the contract and targeting specific voters. Since the California Secretary of State refuses to answer basic questions about its decision to award this contract to Team Biden allies, we call on the Election Assistance Commission Inspector General to investigate this issue and ensure taxpayer dollars are not being used illegally to encourage a Biden victory.”

"There is a fairly simple principle in American elections...Taxpayer money should not be spent to explicitly benefit one political party over the other," said Hice. "Unfortunately, that is exactly what seems to be happening in California, where the California Secretary of State rushed a $35 million contract to increase voter awareness to a Democratic consulting firm openly working on behalf of Joe Biden's presidential campaign. We cannot allow this sort of egregious behavior to slip under the radar. State governments cannot be allowed to put their fingers on the scales of one candidate over another."
 
Recently, the Republican leaders requested that California Secretary of State Alex Padilla provide documents and information about the contract awarded to SKD Knickerbocker, including how it was awarded to a partisan political firm with strong Biden ties and whether any sensitive voter information would be provided to the firm. Since then, documents appear to show that the contract is being inappropriately funded by federal taxpayer money under the Help America Vote Act from the CARES Act to target specific voters and encourage voting, which is a violation of the law. Documents also appear to show that SKD Knickerbocker intends to use several former Democratic operatives to work on the project, including a former aide to then-California Attorney General Kamala Harris and the presidential campaigns of Hillary Clinton and President Obama.

CLICK HERE for the documents reviewed by the Republicans.

CLICK HERE for the letter sent to the EAC IG.

116th Congress