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Republicans Demand California Return Federal Money To Treasury

Top Republicans Demand California Return Federal Money to Treasury Due to Padilla’s Unlawful Contract with Pro-Biden Firm

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Repulicans Demand Return Of Federal Money To Treasury

Washington, DC – Today, House Administration Committee Ranking Member Rodney Davis (R-Ill.), House Committee on Oversight and Reform Ranking Member James Comer (R-Ky.), House Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), and Subcommittee on Government Operations Ranking Member Jody Hice (R-Ga.) demanded the State of California return all federal money to the U.S. Treasury that California Secretary of State Alex Padilla is attempting to use for an unlawful contract with a pro-Biden firm to contact voters.

Earlier this year, Secretary Padilla awarded a $35 million no-bid contract to SKD Knickerbocker, Joe Biden’s main election campaign advisory firm. Documents appear to show that the Secretary of State’s Office attempted to inappropriately fund the contract with federal Help America Vote Act money from the CARES Act to target specific voters and encourage voting, which is a violation of the law. According to a media report, Secretary Padilla has received $34 million worth of invoices from SKD for the voter contact contract, but the California State Controller’s Office says he lacks the state budget authority to pay for it.

“Instead of using taxpayer money to enrich political allies of Secretary Alex Padilla with a contract that likely violates the law, we request that you immediately return the federal money to the United States Treasury… The Secretary’s attempt to pay SKD with federal money appears to be unlawful and an effort to influence the federal election. Instead of using federal grant money to benefit all Californians during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Secretary has decided to skirt the law by pushing an unnecessary and frivolous contract for his political allies to influence the federal election. As it stands, the Secretary’s decisions ensured no Californians benefited from this appropriation,” wrote the Republican Members.

The Republican members previously called on the Election Assistance Commission Inspector General to investigate this contract and also called on Secretary Padilla to provide answers.

The full letter is available here and below.

Letter To Keeley Martin Bosler

December 15, 2020

Keeley Martin Bosler

Finance Director

California Department of Finance

State Capitol Office, Room 1145

Sacramento, CA 95814

Dear Director Bosler:

We are continuing oversight of the highly questionable $35 million voter contact contract the California Secretary of State’s Office awarded to SKD Knickbocker (SKD), Joe Biden’s main election campaign advisory firm. Instead of using taxpayer money to enrich political allies of Secretary Alex Padilla with a contract that likely violates the law, we request that you immediately return the federal money to the United States Treasury.

According to the Sacramento Bee, Secretary Padilla has received $34 million worth of invoices from SKD for the voter contact contract. The no-bid contract was awarded behind closed doors to a firm that employs the “mastermind” of Joe Biden’s presidential campaign and recently added a banner to its website with pictures of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris thanking them for “fighting for the soul of the nation.” SKD also worked on five California congressional races for Democratic candidates during the 2020 election. Now, Secretary Padilla is reportedly the front-runner to be appointed to California’s potentially open United States Senate seat. It is clearly a conflict of interest to provide SKD with millions of dollars in taxpayer money to contact voters while they were not only advising Joe Biden’s presidential campaign but also supporting Democrats in congressional races across California.

The Secretary’s attempt to pay SKD with federal money appears to be unlawful and an effort to influence the federal election. Documents reviewed by Committee Republicans and provided to the U.S. Election Assistance Commission Office of Inspector General show that the Secretary of State’s Office plans to use Help America Vote Act (HAVA) grant money from the CARES Act to fund the contract. According to the U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC), HAVA grants cannot be used to get out the vote (GOTV) or to encourage voting. Further, the CARES Act is very specific about the use of these funds, which must be used to “prevent, prepare for, and respond to coronavirus, domestically or internationally, for the 2020 Federal election cycle.”

Instead of using federal grant money to benefit all Californians during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Secretary has decided to skirt the law by pushing an unnecessary and frivolous contract for his political allies to influence the federal election. The $400 million supplemental appropriation funding, distributed by the EAC, was designed to provide states with additional resources to carry out the 2020 election during the pandemic. As it stands, the Secretary’s decisions ensured no Californians benefited from this appropriation. We respectively request that you immediately refund federal taxpayers the millions of dollars the Secretary of State’s Office is attempting to use from the CARES Act to pay SKD.

The Committee on Oversight and Reform is the principal oversight committee of the U.S. House of Representatives and has broad authority to investigate “any matter” at “any time” under House Rule X. Thank you in advance for your cooperation with this inquiry.

Sincerely,

James Comer, Ranking Member, House Committee on Oversight and Reform

Rodney Davis, Ranking Member, Committee on House Administration

Jim Jordan, Ranking Member, Committee on Judiciary

Jody Hice, Ranking Member, Subcommittee on Government Operations

cc: The Honorable Carolyn B. Maloney, Chairwoman, House Committee on Oversight and Reform

The Honorable Zoe Lofgren, Chairwoman, House Committee on Administration

The Honorable Jerrold Nadler, Chairman, House Committee on the Judiciary

The Honorable Gerry Connolly, Chairman, Subcommittee on Government Operations

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