Last year, Democrats were in hot water over a clandestine political operation undertaken in the Commonwealth prior to Election day. After it was found that political action committee NextGen America was working to bolster the liberal party by filing FOIAs to secure the phone numbers of voters, Governor Ralph Northam recently signed a duo of laws that now prohibits such action going forward – an action that helped him to the governor’s mansion in Richmond in 2017.

Following the November elections, Republicans in the House of Delegates and State Senate sponsored bills in response to the shady tactics of California billionaire Tom Steyer and his PAC, NextGen America. The group used Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests to gather the phone numbers of Virginia college students, texting them about registering to vote, then about voting in the November election.

Republican lawmakers called the tactic an invasion of privacy and an inappropriate use of public information. Though, in the minds of the liberal party, typically, the ends always justify the means.

Steyer’s efforts have been around the Commonwealth since he spent millions of dollars to help former governor Terry McAuliffe win the gubernatorial election in 2013 by mobilizing young, liberal voters and assisting Democrats in Get-Out-To-Vote efforts.

House Bill 1, sponsored by Delegate Tony Wilt (R-Rockingham), amended the state’s education law to emphasize that no college or university can disclose student directory information with the consent of a parent or eligible student, confirmed through a letter. It also gives the right to the parent or eligible student to refuse the designation of any or all of the types of information about the student as directory information.

Senate Bill 512, introduced by Senator David Suetterlein (R-Roanoke), amends the Virginia Freedom of Information Act and will be the one and only exemption of specifically prohibit the release of public information via an FOIA request. Now, the custodian of a scholastic record cannot release the address, phone number, or email address of a student in response to a request unless there is proper written consent.

“Last year tens of thousands of Virginia students were made all too aware of an unintentional loophole in the Freedom of Information Act, when it was exploited by out-of-state PACs to spam their personal cellphone numbers and email addresses,” Suetterlein said according to the Richmond Times-Dispatch. “Senate Bill 512 protects students’ addresses, email addresses and phone numbers from public dissemination. This law will restore the basic privacy our students deserve and previously expected before last year.”

There was opposition to the bills from Democrat-based groups, though. Notably, Megan Rhyne, executive director of the Virginia Coalition for Open Government, wrote to the governor urging him to veto both bills, calling them reactions to a political maneuver during a contentious election year.

“Student directory information has long been used to reach students with information about products, services and opportunities, from restaurant coupons to apartment brochures, from graduate school information to career opportunities,” the letter said according to the report.

With antagonism, she also wrote that the legislation, “will stifle the free flow of information to college students, and will treat college students differently from all other adults in Virginia under existing access laws.”

Nevertheless, as stated by his spokeswoman Ofrian Yheskel, Governor Northam was “happy” to sign the bills.

“Governor Northam agrees that schools should not release sensitive student information without their knowledge or consent,” she reportedly said.

Meanwhile, Steyer and NextGen America are touring college campuses throughout the Commonwealth, staffed and stacked with cute puppies, warm cookies, and fad-driven fidget spinners holding “voter registration” drives. However, that only serves as a weak facade for their bellowing of liberal propaganda on college campuses that is neatly entitled: “Resist. Win. Repeat.”