America First Legal (AFL) has filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for records of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) related to contracts and grants to third parties to censor COVID-19 “misinformation” and criticism of the Biden administration's response to the pandemic.
We obtained a copy of the request for you here.
The HHS does not have the authority to regulate content or censor misinformation of any kind. However, it has been using grants and contracts to get third parties to do so on its behalf.
It has awarded millions of dollars in grants to fight what it deems “misinformation.” For instance, last October, it awarded a $1.1 million grant to the University of Texas to “better understand patterns of misinformation in social media” with the study focusing on misinformation related to Covid testing and vaccines.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which is under the HHS, posted a grant opportunity for “Developing a Public Health Tool to Predict the Virality of Vaccine Misinformation Narratives.” The tool would be used to “predict misinformation trends.”
The CDC was involved with social media companies in a campaign to identify and suppress COVID-19 views that were not in line with official narratives.
The purpose of AFL's FOIA request is to expose the HHS for using federal funds to pay third parties to illegally censor American's free speech and prevent open scientific debate.
“The absurdity of this Administration's actions must not be forgotten,” said AFL vice president Gene Hamilton. “It engaged and is likely still engaging in a concerted campaign to identify and censor speech with which it disagrees.
“To silence speech it then labeled as misinformation, and to advance positions that are now known to be demonstrably false, it used private actors and taxpayer dollars to do what it could not on its own–all for the benefit of other private actors and the aggrandizement of government power. We will uncover, expose, and hold accountable these abuses of governmental power.”