A class action alleges i360, LLC and GC Strategies, LLC have engaged in a pattern and practice of profiting from the sale and distribution of California voters’ personal information in violation of state law.
June 2, 2021 – Lawsuit Dismissed with Leave to Amend
The proposed class action lawsuit detailed on this page was dismissed on May 24, three days after it was filed, with leave to amend.
United States District Judge M. James Lorenz ordered the suit’s dismissal based on the plaintiff’s failure to allege subject matter jurisdiction. According to the three-page dismissal order, the plaintiff based federal jurisdiction on the “minimal diversity of citizenship” requirement of the Class Action Fairness Act, but failed to “affirmatively allege the state of citizenship of each party.”
“One named Defendant, Joe Leventhal, is an individual. Plaintiff does not allege his citizenship,” the judge wrote. “Two named Defendants, i360, LLC and GC Strategies, LLC, are limited liability companies. The citizenship of a limited liability company for purposes of diversity jurisdiction is determined by examining the citizenship of each of its members. ... Plaintiff does not allege the citizenship of Defendants’ members…Accordingly, the citizenship of these Defendants cannot be determined from the face of the complaint. Because Plaintiff does not allege any Defendant’s citizenship, she has not alleged minimal diversity as required for subject matter jurisdiction under CAFA. The complaint is dismissed for lack of subject matter jurisdiction.”
The plaintiff, who filed a notice of voluntary dismissal on May 26, has until June 18, 2021 to file an amended complaint.
A proposed class action alleges i360, LLC and GC Strategies, LLC have engaged in a pattern and practice of profiting from the sale and distribution of California voters’ personal information in violation of state law.
The plaintiff behind the 39-page lawsuit claims to have uncovered the defendants’ conduct after discovering that a door-to-door campaign worker for former San Diego City Council candidate Joe Leventhal, a defendant in the case, obtained her information from i360 despite her confidential voter status, a type of heightened protection that may be granted to some individuals, including public safety officers. According to the complaint, the worker for Leventhal’s campaign should not have been able to obtain the plaintiff’s personal information from i360 given such would have been excluded by elections officials based on the woman’s confidential voter status.
The lawsuit claims the plaintiff, after becoming “greatly concerned” as to why her confidential information was being distributed, then uncovered an agreement between i360, founded by Charles Koch, and GC Strategies whereby the latter, a company that specializes in political, marketing and public relations consulting services, profits from the former’s conduct by “applying and obtaining California voter registration information on i360’s behalf.” Such an arrangement must be disclosed to the secretary of state and authorized, the suit states:
“Public records show that neither Defendant i360 nor Defendant GC Strategies disclosed in their applications to the California Secretary of State or the San Diego County Registrar of Voters that the personal information of Californian voters would be distributed to Defendant Joe Leventhal or his candidate-controlled campaign, Leventhal for Council 2020. Yet such information was sold to and used by Joe Leventhal’s campaign by i360.
Public records further show that Defendant Joe Leventhal and his candidate-controlled committee, Leventhal for Council 2020, did not obtain prior express approval in accordance with Elections Code § 2188 to obtain Californian voter registration information or to disseminate such information to his committee workers.”
According to the lawsuit, Leventhal, a former member of the San Diego County Ethics Commission, “knowingly aided” in the companies’ alleged conduct by obtaining California voters’ personal information from i360 in violation of state law in his capacity as the agent of his candidate-controlled committee, Leventhal for Council 2020.
The lawsuit contends that although i360 holds itself out to be in possession of “publicly available” voter registration files obtained from Secretaries of State, this is false, in particular in California, where voter data is, by state law and with very few exceptions, confidential and not to be disclosed to any person. Clients of i360, per the suit, have access to what the company touts as a voter database library “akin to an enhanced phonebook” containing complete demographic data to be used as campaigns see fit.
The lawsuit, citing public records, states that GC Strategies began to obtain personal information on California voters on i360’s behalf on or around July 18, 2018. In letters to the California Secretary of State, the companies assured they would use the requested voter registration files in accordance with the state elections code and any other applicable laws, the case relays. According to the suit, the California Secretary of State, in response to letters from i360 and GC, granted the companies’ request for voter registration files on the condition that the data be used “only for the purpose stated in your application—not for any type of commercial purpose.”
“You must obtain authorization from the Secretary of State before this data can be used for any other purpose or before it can be transferred to another party,” the Secretary of State’s letter, according to the complaint, read, noting that GC thereafter continued to submit applications for California voter registration information on i360’s behalf.
The lawsuit alleges that an application from GC Strategies for voter registration information made on i360’s behalf on July 30, 2019 was “flagged” by a government employee, who in December of that year made a handwritten note that purportedly stated:
“GC Strategies and i360 made a PVRDR request on 8/27/2019. The letters they used then are very similar to the ones on their new application. On both applications, they do not state who they will eventually share the data with[.]”
The plaintiff goes on to allege that Leventhal and his 2020 San Diego City Council Campaign, in particular, did not legally obtain California voters’ information from either the Secretary of State or the San Diego County Registrars’ Office. The lawsuit, citing “[s]tate election records,” says Leventhal bought California voter registration data from i360 between February and July 2020 in violation of the state’s Elections Code, a misdemeanor offense.
The plaintiff asserts that Leventhal, from his time on the San Diego County Ethics Commission, was “intimately aware” of the proper channels for applying for and obtaining California voter registration data yet “knowingly purchased and obtained” such from i360, who did not submit an application for the information on his behalf.
The lawsuit looks to represent all individuals whose California voter registration information was distributed and sold by GC strategies, LLC or i360, LLC to other persons and/or entities without the prior express approval from the California Secretary of State or California elections officials on or after May 1, 2018 and until notice is sent to those included in the class.
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