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Congressional Progressive Caucus Sends Letter to Attorney General Sessions Regarding DreamHost, Inc. Inquiry

WASHINGTON, D.C.– Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC) Co-Chairs Rep. Raúl Grijalva (D-AZ) and Rep. Mark Pocan (D-WI), and CPC Vice-Chair Keith Ellison (D-MN) sent a letter to U.S. Attorney General Jefferson Sessions following a data request issued by the Department of Justice to DreamHost, Inc. and subsequent litigation surrounding the request. On July 12th, 2017 the Department of Justice initially requested information and IP addresses of online, third-party visitors of DisruptJ20.org. The CPC remains concerned that these types of requests may chill citizens’ First Amendment rights to speak and associate freely. 

The full letter is attached here.


 

September 21, 2017

 

 

Jefferson Sessions

U.S. Attorney General

U.S. Department of Justice
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
Washington, DC 20530-0001

 

Dear Attorney General Sessions:

 

We write to inquire about a recent warrant issued to DreamHost, Inc. on July 12, 2017 requesting information and IP addresses of the online, third-party visitors of DistruptJ20.org. While we understand that there are roughly 200 pending legal cases from January 20 protests—and the Department amended its initial request—we are concerned about the implications of the Department’s inquiry and seek additional information regarding the inquiries.

Protest is a protected act under the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution and central to the health and vitality of our democracy. As such, please address the following questions regarding the recent warrant(s) issued to DreamHost, Inc.:

1.       How did the Administration take in to account First Amendment considerations, including the possible chilling effects on lawful assembly and association before the warrant was sought? Are you aware of any journalists who may be implicated by this warrant, and what affect this may have on free press?

2.       In your opinion, does this website contain protected free expression? Are the operators of this site engaged in protected free expression? Do you believe that the operators of this site are engaged in a criminal enterprise or conspiracy?

3.       What are the safeguards the Justice Department has in place to ensure that federal prosecutors are not seeking and obtaining information related to the constitutionally protected political speech of individuals who are not themselves the subjects or targets of investigations?

4.       Given the interests at stake and the Department's position, we request 1) information regarding the number of analogous requests made by the DOJ since January of this year, and 2) the Department's legal analysis justifying their belief that the initial DreamHost request was lawful. 

Thank you for your attention to this important issue. We look forward to hearing from you no later than October 30, 2017. 

 

Sincerely,

 

 

 

Keith Ellison

Raúl Grijalva

Mark Pocan

Member of Congress

Member of Congress

Member of Congress

 

 

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The Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC) is the largest caucus within the House Democratic Caucus, with over 70 members standing up for progressive ideals in Washington and throughout the country. Since 1991, the CPC has advocated for progressive policies that prioritize working Americans over corporate interests, fight economic and social inequality, and promote civil liberties. The CPC champions progressive policy solutions like comprehensive immigration reform, a $15 national minimum wage, fair trade, gun violence reform, debt-free college, and making the federal government a Model Employer.

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