Expert to Arizona Legislature: Kari Lake Would Have ‘Won Easily’ If Google Hadn’t Interfered in the 2022 Election

State Representative Alex Kolodin (R-Scottsdale), chair of the Arizona House Ad Hoc Committee on Oversight, Accountability, and Big Tech, held the first of a series of hearings last week investigating the impact of Big Tech’s election interference. The first half of the four-hour long session featured testimony by Harvard-educated academic Dr. Robert Epstein, who discovered how Google influences election results. The second half consisted of testimony by First Amendment attorney James Kerwin of the Mountain States Legal Foundation, who discussed where the law is in regard to officials pressuring big tech about posts. He reviewed what then-Secretary of State Katie Hobbs’ office emailed to big tech during the last election, and suggested legislation the Arizona Legislature could propose to curtail the officials.

Kolodin said during the hearing, “It is not acceptable for the government to censor free speech simply because it acts through the private sector.” He warned that the country is in the beginning of a nascent police state … nascent totalitarian society … I go to grassroots meetings where people are afraid to speak … afraid they will be arrested.”

Kolodin said some presenters invited to speak at the hearing dropped out due to fear.

Epstein, whose speech was titled “The Impact of Big Tech’s Election Interference and How we Can Stop it,” admitted he voted for Joe Biden and Hillary Clinton, not Donald Trump, said Google is the “biggest mind control engine that’s ever been invented.” He said that while “they have the power, it’s not illegal. It should be.” He said the government hasn’t done anything to stop Google.

He got involved in investigating Google after receiving a notice from the company in 2012 that said his website had been hacked. “Who made Google the sheriff of the internet?” Then he found the Safari browser was blocking his website — how could Google influence an unrelated browser, he wondered. He wrote an article for U.S. News & World Report about it in 2016.

He began looking into Google search results and said he found “[t]he most disturbing set of scientific findings that I have ever encountered in my life.” He learned that 95 percent of clicks on search results go to the results on the first page. He started setting up experiments with subjects to determine if the search results were artificially manipulated and whether it could influence which political candidate the subject decided to support. He predicted a 2-3 percent shift due to the bias. He was shocked to find it was a 43 percent shift.

He asked his subjects if they observed the bias, and only 25 percent said yes. Then, he set up the search results to “mask the bias.” Instead of showing results that primarily benefited one candidate, he added one favorable result for the opposing candidate. As a result, 85 percent said they saw no sign of bias. When he moved that result up to the third slot in the search results, not a single person reported seeing any bias.

Epstein said that based on all the information Google has compiled on people over the years, the company knows who the undecided voters versus the decided voters are. “We really don’t need to hold elections anymore,” he said since Google knows how people will vote and who will win. He refers to the phenomenon of influencing search results as the Search Engine Manipulation Effect (SEME).

He found that certain demographics were more susceptible to manipulation than others.

Some groups would only shift 20 percent, whereas some would shift as much as 80 percent after just one search. That most vulnerable group was moderate Republicans.

He also discovered that the people who spotted the bias shifted even further in the direction of the bias, about 12-13 points more. He said it was due to a misplaced trust people place in search engines and machine output. He submitted a report on his findings to the National Academy of Sciences, which published it.

Epstein said people think using sites like Google is free, but the reality is “you pay with your freedom, not coins.”

After his report came out, Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood called him to tell him that after he sued Google, the company responded and sued him personally. Epstein said Google fights “tooth and nail” to stop “every sliver of discovery.” Hood said he was concerned that Google might deliberately manipulate search results regarding his next election to defeat him and wanted to know if he could find out.

Epstein discovered that when he used anonymized computers, Google figured out he was up to something and sent those users unbiased search results, “clean content.” He also noticed that Google employees were applying to work for him as if trying to infiltrate his operation. He deliberately included people with Gmail accounts — and discovered they received zero bias in their search results.

In 2016, he discovered pro-Hillary Clinton results in all 10 search results his team conducted about the presidential election but did not notice any bias on Bing or Yahoo. Those sites only have about 1 percent of users. He concluded that Google’s bias towards Clinton would have shifted 2.6 to 10.4 million undecided votes to Hillary.

His operation was massive, preserving 13,000 searches on all three search engines and 98,000 websites from the results. In 2018, he focused on congressional races and found bias on Google but not the other two search engines.

In 2020, he oversaw 1,700 field agents conducting searches in swing states, including Arizona. They preserved over 1 million searches. He found that Google shifted more than 6 million votes to Biden.

Epstein spoke to The New York Post about publishing his findings until the company’s management called it off. The paper was getting 45 percent of its traffic from Google. He realized that companies now have to consider Google when they make decisions, which has been documented in a piece called “Fear of Google.” He said, “You have no recourse; they can put a business out of business.”

In November 2020, three U.S. senators sent a letter to Google warning the tech giant about election manipulation. In response, he said Google shut off all its manipulation in Georgia prior to a Senate runoff. They had over 1,000 field agents in Georgia who observed the change.

They shut off the “Go Vote” manipulation, too, which he said was a reminder to users about voting. Normally, he found that 100 percent of liberals got reminders to vote, whereas only 59 percent of conservatives did. He said a candidate can get an extra 450,000 votes in a national election due to a partisan reminder to vote.

Epstein said he believes it is imperative to use monitoring systems like his to force Google out of elections. In 2022, his operation ramped up to over 2,000 field agents in 10 swing states. He found that tens of millions of votes were shifted, and could zoom in to assess how much particular races were affected.

In Arizona, where Democrat Katie Hobbs beat Republican Kari Lake by .6 percent, less than one point, he said they “could calculate precisely” that “Kari would have won easily” if Google hadn’t interfered. He wrote an article about Google’s election interference that year, How Google Stopped the Red Wave.

Epstein said Google uses people’s “ephemeral experiences” to influence them. He discovered this by coming across evidence that Google wanted to use ephemeral experiences to change how people felt about Trump’s travel ban. These include search suggestions that flash, YouTube sequences like “up next,” “recommended,” etc. He said Google reports that its recommended or next-up algorithm suggests 70 percent of the videos people watch worldwide.

He found that 64.9 percent of news content recommended on YouTube is liberal. For teens, that number is 97.5 percent. There is no record of the suggestions, so people can’t go back in time to figure them out. His project is capturing them, and it’s been expanded to monitor children too.

He said he now has 11,169 registered voters in all 50 states monitoring Google, over 1,000 children and teens, and has preserved over 39 million ephemeral experiences. It will be live later this year at the public dashboard

“They’re going after our kids,” he said. “They’re engaging in systemic indoctrination of our kids,” Epstein noted that Google Docs, which most schoolchildren use, is giving them politically correct suggestions to correct their articles as they’re typing. The problem is Google’s “company values,” he said. “It was founded by utopians who hire people like them.”

He discussed the problem extensively with Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas). Cruz pointed out a major problem is conservatives don’t like regulations.

In contrast, the European Union has been slapping Google with huge fines. The Digital Services Act is “extremely aggressive” at trying to stop Big Tech from interfering in elections. But he said it won’t do anything. “They’ll ignore, and pay the fines if they are fined,” he said. The EU doesn’t have large-scale monitoring systems, so can’t measure compliance, he added.

Media executive Steve Bannon has been calling for the regulation of these companies since 2017, Epstein said. There needs to be secure monitoring, but he’s had difficulty raising more money. If his operation shuts down, “How many votes will Google get shifted in the next presidential election?” He said he believes Google will shift between 6.4 million and 25.5 million votes.

In Arizona, Epstein said he believes Republican Blake Masters, who challenged Senator Mark Kelly (D-AZ) last year, “would have had a shot at winning if you took Google out of it.” Kelly won by a 4.9 percent win margin, and Epstein said he believes that any race won with a 4 percent or under margin was decided by Google “if they had some skin in the game and wanted someone to win. They can present shifts as much as 16 percent.”

He has heard two theories on why no one is donating to continue his monitoring project. One is fear of Google, and the other is fear of Trump. He said there are many people, including Republicans, who don’t want Trump reelected.

He said former President Dwight Eisenhower warned years ago of the rise of a technological elite, adding, “We have been completely asleep.” He ended his speech, “We are handing over our Republic … to tech lords.”

Kolodin asked him if the manipulation could be treated like independent expenditures in politics. Epstein responded and said he was announcing publicly for the first time that they are about to file a complaint with the FEC against Google over in-kind donations.

He warned that he expects to be retaliated against, and although he has a great academic reputation currently, “Next year they will be accusing me of raping a large number of underage people.”

State Representative Neal Carter (R-Maricopa) asked Epstein what search engine he recommended using instead. Epstein referred them to an article he wrote at, which recommends Brave. The article also explains how he hasn’t received a targeted ad since 2014.

For his speech, titled “Free Speech Rights and Government Influence Over Social Media Platforms,” Kerwin talked about how the government isn’t conducting censorship blatantly, such as by burning books, but is doing it subtly such as through coercing third parties like booksellers not to sell certain books.

He explained how case law over the years has established that it is acceptable for a government official to seek to persuade as long as it is not coercive. Much of this conduct falls into a gray area that doesn’t easily fit either of those two categories.

The courts have found that it is more likely to be coercive if there is a threat of prosecution, the police visit, and the government promises a large benefit. Senator Elizabeth Warren (R-MA) wrote a letter to Amazon criticizing a book the company sold about COVID-19, and the courts did not find coercion, mainly because she was just one of 50 senators, so she was not likely to do anything.

Kerwin discussed an email a Hobbs’ staffer sent to Big Tech asking to remove posts in bulk instead of one by one. He said the broadness of this request was disturbing. However, he said even if a court found Hobbs had violated the law, the doctrine of qualified immunity might shield her from liability if she convinced the court she wasn’t aware she was violating anyone’s rights.

Kerwin suggested three types of legislation lawmakers could pass to resolve the problem. First, he said, get rid of the gray areas, such as regulating how officials speak to Big Tech. The law could require the official to indicate that their request is voluntary, not meant to intimidate and that they could be liable legally. He suggested expanding public records law to put more sunshine on these types of cases and requiring contemporaneous public disclosure of those types of communications.

Second, Kerwin recommended restricting government officials’ actions, such as not engaging in viewpoint discrimination. He said they can’t just seek to have posts on one side of an issue taken down. Alternatively, lawmakers could pass a law banning officials from doing this, except for extreme situations.

Finally, he said lawmakers could change the incentives for officials to align with free speech more closely and to flip the incentives to encourage officials to avoid restrictions. He also suggested eliminating qualified immunity and authorizing punitive damages.

Kerwin said it is acceptable for officials to criticize but not for them to suppress speech they don’t like.

State Representative Cesar Aguilar (D-Phoenix) told Kerwin he thought free speech can be “very dangerous.” He said there were some “dangerous bills” introduced in the legislature this year that were “based on misinformation.” One would place a disclaimer on ballots warning voters that if they turned their ballot in after Friday, it could result in a delayed election. Aguilar said the reason wasn’t accurate. He said the reason last year’s election was delayed was due to counties delaying the certification.

“That’s where I think free speech gets very dangerous,” he said.

Aguilar claimed he knew the reason why Republicans have issues with big tech. “Republicans do not have popular views, and that is why their views are not popular on social media,” he said.

The hearing ended with comments from the public. Yvonne Cahill, a member at large for Republican Congressional District (CD) 1, said, “We are in 1984, we are living it … What I heard was terrifying.” She said she played many sports and will lose gracefully, but only if it’s fair.

Merissa Hamilton, also a member at large for CD 1 and the founder of EZAZ, said she recognized everything in the hearing from the dystopian novel 1984 by George Orwell. She spoke about running for mayor of Phoenix and almost having her Facebook account shut down 12 days before the election.

Jeff Caldwell, also from EZAZ, spoke about how Big Tech tracks people, citing the English city of Oxford, where companies track people and fine them if they are caught driving outside of their zones.

Lake gave the last public comment of the session.

“I think everybody in this room knows that that election of 2022 was a fraud, a fraudulent election, and it was sabotaged by some of the people who are running our election,” she said.

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Rachel Alexander is a reporter at The Arizona Sun Times and The Star News NetworkFollow Rachel on Twitter. Email tips to [email protected].



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