Ariz. Gov. Hobbs' request for Twitter to censor her critics sparks legislative investigation

Emails show that in November of 2020, Hobbs reportedly abused her official secretary of state email by asking Twitter to take action against her "alt-right" critics. Critics have uncovered more emails and now state House Republicans want answers. Hobbs calls it a "sideshow." This scenario is ongoing nationally.

Published: September 1, 2023 11:05pm

Updated: September 6, 2023 12:45pm

Democrat Arizona Gov. Katie Hobbs asked Twitter, now called X, to censor critics of a tweet she posted while serving in the state legislature. According to Arizona Capitol Oversight, a self-described government accountability website, "then-Secretary Katie Hobbs and her government office engaged in an extensive campaign to censor her critics before and during her campaign for governor."

Hobbs tweeted a comparison likening Trump supporters to Nazis. Hobbs allegedly sought retribution against critics of that tweet.

"@realDonaldTrump has made it abundantly clear he's more interested in pandering to his neo-nazi base than being @POTUS for all Americans," Hobbs posted in 2017.

Hobbs received backlash for the tweet in 2020, with some questioning her ability to practice impartiality as Arizona's Secretary of State. She was sworn in to that position in 2019, after winning the election in 2018. 

According to emails disclosed by Arizona Capitol Oversight, Hobbs requested that Twitter censor critics of a three-year-old post. 

The emails show that in November of 2020, Hobbs may have abused her official Secretary of State email account and asked Twitter to take action against her "alt-right" critics. 

Twitter requested more information and asked Hobbs to provide examples for her request. "I am not sure I can provide the information you are asking for because I reported and then blocked multiple users at the same time," Hobbs wrote in response. 

"The alt-right got a hold of a 3-year-old tweet on my account and have been sending harassing, abusive, and threatening tweets and direct messages for the last 2 days," Hobbs continued. 

The Tennessee Star reported that Hobbs’ team used an official government email address on August 3, 2022, in the midst of Hobbs’ campaign for governor, to try and get a tweet from the AZGOP censored. The tweet Hobbs tried to have removed said, “Hobbs is failing at her current job…How can she ask anyone to give her a promotion to #AZGOV?” Hobbs’ then-chief of staff, Allie Bonese, emailed the Center for Internet Security and reported it as disinformation, the emails show.

Earlier this month, Hobbs again denied impropriety in an interview with local radio station KJZZ. In the interview she dismissed revelations that she misused government resources to censor critics as a "sideshow."

"EXPOSED: @GovernorHobbs has relentlessly censored major entities, including the Arizona Republican Party. Shocked? We're not," the Arizona GOP wrote on X. "This goes beyond politics—it's a matter of principle." 

Hobbs' office did not immediately respond to a request for comment by publication time. Meanwhile, State Rep. Alex Kolodin (R-Scottsdale), announced earlier this month that he will be chairing a new Ad Hoc Interim Committee on Oversight, Accountability and Big Tech to investigate.

Similar legislative investigations and lawsuits are ongoing nationwide regarding government actors trying to censor social media postings that criticize them or their policies. The House Committee on Oversight and Accountability has been holding hearings on the issue.

In the closely watched State of Missouri et. als. v. Biden lawsuit, Judge Don Willett of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit said that "officials appeared to practice "fairly unsubtle strong-arming" and make "not-so-veiled threats" in the vein of "this is a really nice social media platform you've got there, would be a shame if something happened to it."

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