A recent investigative report has exposed shocking revelations about the Town of Gilbert’s Office of Digital Government (ODG), drawing attention to its extensive monitoring and control over the online activities of town employees and elected officials.
The report, first brought to light by AZ Free News, highlighted the office’s role in policing online speech to align with a specific political agenda.
The ODG, with an annual budget exceeding $1 million, is accused of imposing progressive, far-left views, closely monitoring, and sometimes reprimanding employees for their private and public communications.
Gilbert pays a department over $1 million a year to control town employees and elected officials’ online speech to ensure conformity with a progressive political agenda.
My latest covered by @azfamily ⤵️ pic.twitter.com/bBs07t09aE
— Corinne Murdock (@CorinneMurdock) January 19, 2024
Dana Berchman, the town’s Chief Digital Officer, has been at the center of the controversy, with the ODG reportedly keeping a close eye on personal social media posts of government-affiliated individuals.
ODG’s activities have raised concerns among town employees and watchdog groups about issues related to free speech and political bias.
Reports suggest that the ODG, led by Berchman, has a significant influence over online communications from various departments within the town’s administration.
Following significant social and political events, such as the death of George Floyd and the January 6 Capitol riots, the ODG’s scrutiny of employees’ social media activity intensified. The department is accused of imposing strict guidelines on the public expression of views, particularly discouraging the show of support for pro-police messaging.
The implications of ODG’s activities extend beyond internal communications.
The department has influenced various aspects of town operations, including public safety responses and the portrayal of significant local events. There have been instances where ODG’s directives seemingly prioritized political correctness over operational efficiency.
Gilbert’s Mayor Brigette Peterson and other town officials have faced criticism and legal challenges due to these practices.
Judicial Watch has been scrutinizing Gilbert’s leadership since 2021, citing allegations of using municipal resources to propagate a particular political ideology, according to Arizona Daily Independent.
Mayor Peterson herself has been the subject of several ethics violation complaints, further underscoring the contentious nature of the town’s leadership.
The salaries of ODG employees have also been brought into the spotlight, with figures ranging from over $82,000 to nearly $138,000, and Berchman’s salary exceeding $200,000 annually. The total ODG salaries surpass $1.15 million, raising questions about the use of taxpayer funds to support the department’s unconstitutional activities.