Last month, Gov. Josh Shapiro and Secretary of State Al Schmidt launched an Election Threats Task Force.

This month the new task force garnered Congressional interest. The Federalist first reported Judiciary Committee Chair Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) is seeking information on whether Pennsylvania’s new task force, working with the federal Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, will stifle free speech during the 2024 election.

In a March 20 letter, Jordan said his committee had subpoenaed the Department of Homeland Security, CISA’s parent agency, for information.

In his letter, Jordan said, “The reporting about a partnership between CISA and the Pennsylvania Election Threats Task Force reinforces concerns that CISA is again partnering with third parties in a way that will censor or chill Americans’ speech. The Task Force will reportedly focus on ‘combat[ting]misinformation’ as defined by the government, including online speech regarding Pennsylvania’s controversial ‘no-excuse mail-in voting.’

“The government’s involvement in this type of speech is particularly alarming because, as the Supreme Court has recognized, ‘the importance of First Amendment protections is at its zenith for core political speech.’”

When he announced the new task force Shapiro said, “Pennsylvania is the birthplace of American democracy, and we are working to continue defending Pennsylvanians’ fundamental freedoms and ensure we have a free, fair, safe, secure election this November. As attorney general, I brought law enforcement leaders at every level together to ensure our elections remained free from fraud, interference, and intimidation here in Pennsylvania – and I made a commitment to continuing that work as governor.”

Previously, the Congressional House Committee on Oversight and Accountability found that government agencies asked Twitter and Facebook to stop the spread of some online speech–specifically a pre-2020 election article in the New York Post about Hunter Biden’s laptop–deemed “misinformation” or “malinformation,” regardless of free speech rights.  Politically, preventing that article from widespread dissemination benefited then-candidate Joe Biden.

Jordan termed malinformation “Orwellian.”

Published reports say CISA officials leaned on Twitter (now X) and Facebook to remove or limit certain posts.

Asked to comment, Pennsylvania House Leader Bryan Cutler (R-Lancaster) referred DVJournal to his earlier statement: “The greatest threats to Pennsylvanians having confidence in our elections are a state Supreme Court that willfully refuses to follow the plain language of Pennsylvania’s election laws as enacted by the Pennsylvania General Assembly; a Pennsylvania Department of State that has a history of offering conflicting, confusing, and last minute election guidance that purposefully sows chaos, confusion and discord into the election process; and a Democratic Party that has proudly refused to embrace even the most universally supported election security measures that would increase confidence in our election process by requiring Pennsylvanians to show identification each time they vote.

“By turning our elections into a military and law enforcement exercise, Gov. Shapiro completely misses the point of election security and his administration’s role in conducting free, safe and secure elections. Pennsylvanians do not need a show of arms to feel confident in our election system. They need our laws to be implemented as designed, properly interpreted and uniformly enforced,” Cutler said.

The Department of State issued this statement to DVJournal in response to Jordan’s letter: “As noted in the Shapiro administration’s news release last month, members of the Pennsylvania Election Threats Task Force share information and help coordinate plans to mitigate threats to the election process, including threats to election workers, and protect voters from intimidation. It also works to combat mis- and disinformation about the electoral process by providing voters with accurate, trusted election information.

“The Department of State is grateful to count the United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and its Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) — organizations with which it has had longstanding, productive relationships — among the Task Force’s members. CISA provides voluntary guidance and resources so all levels of government can protect their cyber and physical infrastructure, and it has proved a critical partner in keeping Pennsylvania’s elections free, fair, safe, and secure.”

The U.S. Supreme Court may have the final word.

The issue of government interference in free speech online is also part of Murthy v. Missouri, a case pending before the U.S. Supreme Court in which a lawyer for some of the states said the CISA, White House staff, the FBI, and the surgeon general have coerced changes in content posted to social media to remove conservative views.


Please follow DVJournal on social media: Twitter@DVJournal or