Salesforce sued in attempt to block release of Capitol riot info

CRM giant pleased to be named yet again on World's Most Ethical Companies list

Salesforce has become a defendant in a case brought by the Republican National Committee (RNC) that seeks to prevent the release of information revealing communications within the Republican Party related to the storming of the US Capitol building on January 6, 2021.

Salesforce has become embroiled in the case because the US House of Reps select committee investigating the events of that fateful day learned that the RNC and the Trump for President campaign used Salesforce for campaign communications and some internal chatter.

The select committee believes the Salesforce data will "help investigators understand the impact of false, inflammatory messages in the weeks before January 6th, the flow of funds, and whether contributions were actually directed to the purpose indicated."

The select committee therefore issued a subpoena [PDF] to Salesforce, compelling the SaaSy CRM giant to hand over information, including:

  • All performance metrics and analytics related to email campaigns by or on behalf the Trump for President campaign, the RNC and the Trump Make America Great Again Committee;
  • All records related to login sessions by individuals associated with the Trump campaign or the RNC into Salesforce's Marketing Cloud platform, including all related metadata;
  • All documents and communications – from January 1, 2021, to January 31, 2021 – concerning investigative reports or analyses conducted by Salesforce regarding the protests, marches, public assemblies, rallies, or speeches in Washington DC on January 5 and 6;
  • All documents and communications concerning investigative reports or analyses conducted by Salesforce regarding the use of Salesforce's platforms by the RNC or the Trump campaign and related materials, from November 3, 2020, to January 31, 2021;
  • All communications between Salesforce and the RNC or the Trump campaign concerning the continued use of Salesforce's platforms by the RNC or the Trump campaign.

The subpoena also notes that Salesforce was worried by the RNC's use of its platform and moved to prevent it sending emails it felt could incite violence.

The Register understands that Salesforce intended to comply with the subpoena, and is scheduled to do so by Wednesday morning, US time.

The RNC has tried to stop that from happening and made Salesforce a defendant, along with many select committee members, in an application [PDF] for an injunction that would prevent the CRM titan disclosing the requested information.

The application argues that the subpoena is much too broad, and that the requested data is "sensitive and proprietary" and would reveal the RNC's campaign methods plus "internal political strategies and … private, personal information regarding its supporters."

"The release of the information demanded in the Salesforce subpoena will expose supporters, donors, and other partners who interact with the RNC and Republican candidates to the risk of economic reprisal, loss of employment, threat of physical coercion, and other manifestations of public hostility by individuals opposed to their association with the RNC and Republican candidates," the filing added.

There are many more pages of similar argument, plus others alleging the select committee has no authority to request the data from Salesforce.

At the time of writing, The Register can find no indication the motion for an injunction has been approved.

Salesforce is silent on the matter, though co-CEO Marc Benioff has previously shared his views about the January 6 insurrection:

And then on Tuesday reminded us all it is an ethical company – and has a certification to prove it.

Whatever Salesforce does next, we can assume it will have considered the ethical implications. ®

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