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Dominion Voting Systems sues Santa Clara County to block release of public records

Dominion Voting Systems filed a writ of mandate Thursday in Santa Clara County Superior Court to prevent the county from releasing financial information gathered during a contract procurement process.

(CN) — Dominion Voting Systems claims they were forced to submit private financial information to Santa Clara County when applying for a contract to supply voting systems. That information is now at risk of being disclosed through the Freedom of Information Act and the California Privacy Rights Act.

Dominion ultimately won the contract for up to eight years, with an option to renew for two additional two-year terms, but they now face the possibility that their financials will be splayed across the internet for all to see, according to a complaint filed by the company Thursday.

The company initially rose to fame during the 2020 United States presidential election because of unproven allegations that they rigged their voting machines to favor Democratic candidate, and now president, Joe Biden. Since that time, Dominion has come under increased scrutiny by Republican politicians, prompting the records requests that led to Thursday’s lawsuit.

Dominion claims as part of the process that led to their winning the contract, they had to send the county detailed financial documents, along with proprietary information “about the technical and functional components of their voting systems, as well as the personal identifying information of key employees.” That includes 47 pages of audited financial statements produced between 2015 and 2017 — each page of which was marked “Confidential & Proprietary — No Part of this Document May Be Disclosed or Copied,” according to the complaint.

As part of the agreement, the county was to notify Dominion if they received any records requests regarding their proposal. Recently the county contacted Dominion to alert them to six pending CPRA records requests covering the company’s financials and key employees, including one request made by a “sovereign citizen of New California.” The county recently confirmed to Dominion that they intended to honor the requests, but agreed to redact the personally identifying information of employees.

According to Dominion, releasing the financial statements would “reveal sensitive information about the present and future state of Dominion’s business” including their areas of investment, debts and their dependence on certain customers, the release of which would directly harm their business.

Dominion claims that internally all the information at risk of being disclosed is “need to know,” meaning the only people inside the company with access to it are executives, officers and key employees who need the data to do their job. As such, they consider the data to be confidential and say it should fall under the CPRA trade secret exemption which allows public entities to deny records requests if divulging that information would cause undue harm to a business.

Such a denial is equally beneficial for the county because they have “an interest in obtaining the best vendor proposals in response to its requests,” according to the lawsuit. Dominion said they believed by clearly marking the financial statements as “confidential” the county would hold the documents in confidence, which they’re now afraid is not actually the case.

“Releasing Dominion’s Financial Statements after Dominion provided them under confidential terms will have a chilling effect on the willingness of future vendors to submit proposals and other private business information” to the county during future contract procurement, according to the lawsuit.

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Categories / Business, Civil Rights, Government, Law

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