Residents shut out of second debate between Rep. Knight and Katie Hill

Katie Hill

Despite requests from the Katie Hill campaign, Palmdale Chamber of Commerce refuses to allow video or audio recording of the second congressional debate.

Most residents of California’s 25th Congressional District will never get to see or hear the second debate between Congressman Steve Knight (R-Palmdale) and challenger Katie Hill. If residents cannot attend the debate in person (Thursday, September 20 at 6 pm at the Palmdale Chamber of Commerce), there will be no video or audio of the event.

“We would love a camera there,” Zack Czajkowski, Hill’s campaign manager, told SoCal Daily Media. Czajkowski said the Hill campaign has heard from dozens of people who would like to attend but are unable to do so.

Nonetheless, the event will not be livestreamed online, nor will video or audio recordings be allowed — effectively preventing most residents from hearing directly from the two people running to represent the district in Congress.

Jeanna Huerta, CEO of the Palmdale Chamber of Commerce, confirmed the audio and video ban, saying it was a decision made by the Chamber’s Board of Directors.

When pressed on the possibility of reversing their decision, since many people will not be able to attend, Huerta replied it was “too late in the game” to change plans.

However, the Hill campaign reached out to the Chamber multiple times last week by phone and email asking for cameras to be allowed into the debate, only to be turned down.

Czajkowski says the Hill campaign initially agreed to the terms of the debate, which stated there would be no recording. But after hearing from many residents who would be unable to attend, the campaign decided to ask the Chamber to reconsider and allow a recording.

The Knight campaign refused to say whether it supports the debate being filmed and uploaded so residents have an opportunity to hear from both Knight and Hill.

The Knight campaign’s only response was to insult this writer, saying, “I do not consider you to be ‘media.'”

Knight’s stonewalling over filming the debate “shows a complete lack of faith in the candidate, either from himself or his consultants,” Czajkowski said. “It is ridiculous that a two-term incumbent doesn’t feel comfortable with a camera.”

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce endorsed Knight and is spending thousands of dollars to support Knight’s campaign. (The U.S. Chamber is a separate entity from the Palmdale Chamber.)

“Transparency is something very important to Katie, and always has been,” Czajkowski said. The campaign has “gone out of its way to let people know who Katie is.”

One of the ways the campaign has made itself visible to the public was by allowing VICE News Tonight to follow Hill’s campaign since before the primary and air several segments about it.

The Palmdale debate will be the second forum between Knight and Hill. At the first debate, Knight refused to discuss his unpopular vote to scrap the Affordable Care Act, and the two candidates sparred on issues like the Republican tax bill.

The first debate was held at the Lancaster Chamber of Commerce, which filmed the event so that businesses unable to attend would be able to watch it anytime, CEO Mark Hemstreet told SoCal Daily. He said there was no cost associated with filming it and uploading it to YouTube, and the Lancaster Chamber’s goal was to just let people know where the candidates stand on the issues.

Anyone can view the first debate here.

Update: An earlier version of this article stated, “As far as this writer is aware, SoCal Daily is the only media outlet that wrote about the first debate between Knight and Hill.” Since publication, this writer learned that the Proclaimer also covered the debate. We regret the error.