Last week, the Republican National Committee filed a complaint against the January 6th Committee to stop the enforcement of an "overbroad" and "unauthorized" subpoena compelling Salesforce to produce "sensitive and proprietary data over more than a two month period, which would give the Select Committee unprecedented access to the RNC’s internal political strategies and to private, personal information regarding its supporters." While it is common practice for companies like Salesforce to decline compliance with similar subpoenas during pending litigation, a new request for an injunction from the RNC explains that Salesforce plans to comply unless the court intervenes.
The RNC indicated in its new filing that Salesforce had initially planned to withhold documents from the select committee while the lawsuit was pending. But the company changed course.
“Late in the afternoon on March 10, 2022, Salesforce’s counsel informed the RNC that after discussions with staff for the Select Committee … Salesforce indicated that it would not be able to withhold production during the pendency of this matter,” RNC attorneys wrote.
“Salesforce’s counsel represented to the RNC that absent a pending motion for emergency relief from this court, Salesforce would begin to produce documents to the Select Committee in compliance with the Salesforce Subpoena on Wednesday, March 16, 2022.”
The RNC also added Salesforce as a defendant in its original lawsuit against the Committee.
Pelosi’s committee is abusing its powers to pressure Salesforce into turning over the private data of millions of Americans and the Republican Party’s political strategy. (1/3)— GOP (@GOP) March 16, 2022
This is a shakedown, plain and simple, and the RNC is prepared to fight this blatant attack on freedom of speech and freedom of political association. (3/3)— GOP (@GOP) March 16, 2022
RNC Chief Counsel Justin Riemer argues that the the Committee's "heavy-handed" tactics are coercing Salesforce to comply with the subpoena despite the pending litigation:
The RNC sued the Select Committee because its subpoena to Salesforce is unconstitutional. Even though the court has yet to weigh in, the Select Committee demands that Salesforce immediately turn over the private data of millions of Americans and the RNC’s political strategy which lie at the heart of our lawsuit. These heavy-handed tactics are wrong and a clear overreach. In order to protect the constitutional rights of the Republican Party and its millions of supporters, the RNC has added Salesforce to the lawsuit and asked the court to expedite consideration of the case.
Earlier today, the RNC reached an agreement with the Committee to delay the subpoena's enforcement date until the judge assigned to the case can make a ruling on the RNC's initial complaint.
A status hearing just started in this case, Judge Timothy Kelly asked if the House would be willing to delay that enforcement date by a week to accomodate the judge's schedule (he says they could expect a ruling by April 6), and GC Doug Letter says they'd be fine with that— Zoe Tillman (@ZoeTillman) March 16, 2022
While the delayed enforcement deadline is a temporary victory, it should not be lost that lawmakers on the Committee are using January 6th as cover to chill the speech of the RNC and its supporters (emphasis added):
6. If forced to comply, Salesforce would disclose records regarding whether and how individual RNC supporters have responded to emails (including at what time they opened such emails), reacted to specific political messaging, signed any RNC petitions, completed any surveys on specific issues and policy proposals, or responded to specific fundraising appeals. It would also include information regarding individual voting habits, involvement in various coalition groups, and even what political merchandise they liked best. “[T]he subject matter of these materials represents the very heart of the organism which the [F]irst [A]mendment was intended to nurture and protect: political expression and association concerning federal elections and officeholding.” Fed. Election Comm'n v. Machinists Non-Partisan Pol. League, 655 F.2d 380, 388 (D.C. Cir. 1981).
7. The Select Committee’s fishing expedition would only serve to chill the RNC’s and its supporters’ First Amendment rights, while providing their political opponents with an all-access pass to confidential RNC political strategies and the personal information of millions of its supporters. Worryingly, the information targeted is universally for persons opposed to the political party in control of the U.S. House of Representatives and the Select Committee.
8. If allowed to stand, this unprecedented sweep of a national political party’s donors’ and supporters’ private information will surely chill constitutionally protected political activity and subject the RNC’s supporters to the risk of reprisals by those who disagree with their support of the Republican Party and its candidates.
The subpoena also threatens the RNC and its supporters' Fourth Amendment rights since the subpoena is "sweeping" and "untethered from any valid legislative purpose."
The Committee's Salesforce subpoena is an unprecedented assault against the constitutional rights of a political party and its supporters and should alarm all Americans who value the principles the United States was founded on.