October 5, 2019 Sandy Robson
The Searchlight Review published a September 22, 2019 article that focused on Whatcom County Sheriff Bill Elfo, who is running for re-election this year, as well as two conservative groups in Skagit County, in relation to We Speak, a new social media platform for Christian conservatives founded by local Trump supporter Ray Gilbride, and his wife, Danielle Gilbride.
Searchlight Review’s article revealed that a September 19, 2019 Facebook post displayed on the Re-elect Sheriff Bill Elfo campaign Facebook page had announced that, “Wespeak.com is running most of Re-Elect Sheriff Bill Elfo’s campaign!” That Facebook post linked to a September 19 post displayed on the “Sheriff Bill Elfo” We Speak page that had urged his campaign’s supporters to open a We Speak membership in addition to their Facebook accounts.
One day after that Sept. 22 news broke, the We Speak “Sheriff Bill Elfo” profile, along with the posts once displayed under it, disappeared from We Speak, and the September 19 Facebook post cited above disappeared from the Re-elect Sheriff Bill Elfo Facebook page. According to the stats listed under the “Sheriff Bill Elfo” We Speak page, as of the publish date of the article (September 22, 2019) seventy-seven posts had been posted on that We Speak page.
Later, that same day, Monday, September 23, the Re-elect Sheriff Bill Elfo Facebook page made a post at 7:10 PM, proclaiming that the Whatcom County Sheriff’s office has remained non-partisan since the 1978 adoption of the County Charter, and that as sheriff, Bill Elfo has “made sure that partisan politics have not crept into the Office.” The statement featured in the post made no mention of the news that had come out the day before about the “Sheriff Bill Elfo” We Speak profile and the September 19 posts about We Speak.
On Wednesday, September 25, an individual posted a comment under the September 23 Re-elect Sheriff Bill Elfo Facebook page’s post, asking in part, “Why did you post that We Speak was overseeing your campaign?”
The Re-elect Sheriff Bill Elfo Facebook page posted a reply comment that said in part, “We Speak is not and has never- ever been ‘…overseeing…’ the Re-Elect Sheriff Bill Elfo campaign.” The comment went on to say that, “Sheriff Bill Elfo is the only one overseeing his re-election campaign.” The reply comment was signed by Bruce Ayers, who stated in his September 25 comment reply that he is chair of the Re-elect Sheriff Bill Elfo Steering Committee. It appears that Mr. Ayers is an admin on the sheriff’s campaign’s Facebook page.
Mr. Ayers, in his comment reply, also stated that, “Late last Thursday [Sept. 19] evening our campaign registered with We Speak thinking it was another opportunity to share our message…”
It is unclear whether Mr. Ayers meant that there was another Sheriff Elfo profile that their campaign registered with We Speak on Thursday, September 19, or if he simply has his facts wrong. Because, Searchlight Review has documentation (screenshot photos) of the “Sheriff Bill Elfo” We Speak profile page going back at least as far as August 20, 2019, and has documentation of various posts prior to September 19 which were made by the “Sheriff Bill Elfo” We Speak profile.
Mr. Ayers also said in his comment:
“We are not promoting or endorsing We Speak. Any more than we are promoting or endorsing Facebook by registering with and having a Facebook page.”
That logic from Mr. Ayers is problematic in light of the fact that the “Sheriff Bill Elfo” We Speak page, in its September 19 post, had stated: “We’re asking all our supporters to come open a membership at Wespeak.com in addition to your Facebook accounts.”
Mr. Ayers, in his comment, failed to acknowledge that Sheriff Elfo’s campaign having asked supporters to join We Speak, and stating that, “Wespeak.com is running most of Re-Elect Sheriff Bill Elfo’s campaign,” goes way beyond simply registering with and having a We Speak account. Those actions can easily be viewed as promoting and endorsing We Speak.
There are still numerous unanswered questions surrounding the “Sheriff Bill Elfo” We Speak profile which had existed at least as far back as August 2019, up through September 23, 2019 when that profile disappeared from We Speak’s social media platform. The public deserves transparent, full and accurate answers to those.
Link to Searchlight Review’s Sept. 22, 2019 article: https://searchlightreview.com/2019/09/22/sheriff-elfos-campaign-urges-supporters-to-join-new-christian-conservative-social-media-platform/