100 signatures reached
To: Austin Beutner
School Officials: Investigate Illegal Impersonation
A person who is not a public figure used her personal Twitter account to promote candidates for school board while impersonating illegally LAUSD Superintendent Austin Beutner, fraudulently misusing his name and photo instead of her own.
This action plainly appears to violate state penal code resulting from passage of SB 1411 (state law since 2010), which protects public figures from false impersonation. And the public tweets potentially influenced the election results by misleading the public. Superintendent Beutner and the LAUSD Counsel should investigate this apparent illegal act of impersonation and clear breach of public integrity.
Why is this important?
On November 5, 2020 alert civic watchdogs discovered that a person had been using LAUSD Superintendent Beutner’s name and photo. The impostor retweeted social-networking messages from an organization known as Speak Up supporting school board candidates. As “Austin Beutner,” she retweeted support for two candidates running for school board in the November 3, 2020 election.
However, when her fraud was revealed, she claimed it was a prank aimed at a friend, but there is no evidence in her online behavior of an innocent mistake.
The impostor volunteers with Speak Up, an organization created to promote California Charter School Association-backed candidates for LAUSD school board.
On November 6, Superintendent Beutner released a statement that he had been impersonated and that he had not issued any tweets of support for the two candidates, Marilyn Koziatek or Tanya Ortiz Franklin. LAUSD has not yet indicated that they are investigating the matter. Nor has LAUSD indicated that they have asked the L.A. County Registrar Clerk Recorder to investigate the fake account, how the impersonation violated state law, and if it influenced the school board elections.
Impersonating a public official appears to violate state penal code (in law for a decade, since enactment of SB 1411 in 2010) protecting Californians against impersonation on the internet. The Superintendent and the LAUSD Counsel are obligated to investigate and verify if SB 1411 has been violated.
A person is deemed impersonated "if another person would reasonably believe, or did reasonably believe, that the defendant was or is the person who was impersonated." Impersonation under the law "shall include opening an email account or an account or profile on a social networking Internet Web site in another person's name."
The penalties for this illegal impersonation can include "a fine [of] ...one thousand dollars ($1,000), or... imprisonment in a county jail not exceeding one year."
CALL TO ACTION
We the undersigned urge the following:
-- Superintendent Beutner and the LAUSD Counsel should investigate violations involving false representation, fraud, and breaches of public trust stemming from this illegal act of impersonation
-- Superintendent Beutner and the LAUSD Counsel should probe any further communication or coordination of the impostor with other LAUSD officials and school district decision makers to assess further impacts such communication or coordination might have had, or continue to have, on district policy or decisions