An up-and-coming Republican congressional candidate has fired the first shot in a legal battle that could reshape the foundation for conservative anti-discrimination action against America’s technology giants.
Anna Paulina Luna of Florida’s 13th Congressional District filed an official complaint Wednesday with the Federal Election Commission regarding Twitter‘s negligence in failing to verify her profile, while verifying that of incumbent Democratic opponent Charlie Crist.
On paper, however, the case is about far more than the validation and perceived legitimacy that come with the famed blue checkmark.
It is a matter of alleged election interference from Silicon Valley.
“This is not just about the verification,” Luna told The Western Journal on Tuesday. “This is about an illegal in-kind contribution, which means that these people illegally donated to a campaign to help them win.
“That is election interference, regardless of whether or not people realize that that does have an effect. It absolutely does,” Luna said.
“Why are we also not verified?” she added. “For me that seems like it’s an actual orchestrated little agenda there, and I don’t agree with it. So, I am taking this seriously. This is, again, hopefully going to influence future elections.”
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Luna pushed her Twitter following north of 200,000 on the campaign trail and won the Republican primary for Florida’s 13th congressional district by almost 5,000 votes this August, securing a nearly 8-point margin of victory over her closest competition in the crowded five-person race.
But an overwhelming 200,000 followers and the nomination of a major party have apparently brought the first-time candidate little headway with Twitter, as she remains one of only two GOP nominees in her state to see their official campaign account remain unverified just weeks from the general election. (Early voting begins Monday in some parts of Florida.)
According to Politico, a spokesman for Twitter claimed in December that it would verify all ballot-qualified congressional and gubernatorial hopefuls throughout the 2020 election season to “ensure a level playing field” for all candidates.
The platform has failed to make good on that promise, however, with nearly 90 candidate verifications unaccounted for across five states just one week prior to the Super Tuesday primaries in March, The Hill reported.
As is evident in the case of Luna and fellow Republican nominee Scott Franklin of Florida’s 15th Congressional District, the platform is still struggling to hit its initial target in October, just three weeks out from Election Day 2020.
In a slew of email communications received by The Western Journal, Twitter was unwilling to discuss specifics with Luna after multiple requests, simply reiterating the three basic requirements for candidate verification.
Those criteria include an official profile on Ballotpedia, a detailed and accurate Twitter biography and current compliance with Twitter’s rules and terms of service — all of which Luna seems to meet.
The Wednesday FEC complaint, filed by campaign lawyers Charlie Spies and Katie Reynolds, argues that unbalanced verification in a specific race constitutes an unregistered and illegal in-kind campaign contribution on the part of Twitter — particularly given the potential for verification to increase reach and engagement.
“When you are verified on any account, not only does it increase engagement but there’s algorithms on the back end of more visibility for that,” Luna said. “There is some level of monetary value assigned to that verification.”
“You’re talking about the ability to really influence and control elections based on information,” she later added.
“I do believe that there is — someone has to pick up the torch and they have to fight for this, and I do have a legitimate case. I know that there have been other people that have tried but, because of the nature of their cases, they haven’t really gotten that far with it. We do realize that this is going to be basically, I think, what takes down the giant.”
Luna went on to suggest the case was bigger even than her run for Congress, coming as a unique shift in the way conservatives have traditionally argued Big Tech censorship and political discrimination cases in the court of law.
This shift also stands a substantial chance of setting precedent in the federal courts, with a recent resignation leaving the FEC unable to meet quorum this election cycle — thus forcing cases outside the allotted 60-day review window and through the judicial turnstile, Luna argues.
“This is really about not just the First Amendment, but really the sanctity of the election process,” she said. “So, we are bringing this fight to Washington, D.C., we’re bringing the fight to Twitter and, hopefully, it will eventually be heard in the Supreme Court.”
“I am being suppressed, and I’m not the only one,” the candidate added.
“And I do believe that we found a chink in their armor, that we will be able to sue them. And this is not about a monetary value for suit. This is for legal precedence.”
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