As U.S. lawmakers close in on Big Tech with antitrust investigations, Facebook is striking back by aiding the launch of a powerful tech lobby.
“Facebook is working behind the scenes to help launch a new political advocacy group that would combat U.S. lawmakers and regulators trying to rein in the tech industry,” The Washington Post wrote in its May 12 coverage. This advocacy group, called American Edge, reportedly will use “a barrage of advertising and other political spending to convince policymakers that Silicon Valley is essential to the U.S. economy and the future of free speech.”
American Edge’s formation was aided by “top Democratic and Republican operatives, including Jim Papa, a former aide to President Barack Obama, and Danny Diaz, who has advised GOP governors and presidential campaigns on media strategy,” according to The Post.
This board has heavy hitters from both sides of American politics, noted The Post:
[O]n the group’s board are a former Republican governor, federal regulator and Democratic congressman, according to people familiar with the effort, and it’s being advised by a stable of veteran Democratic and Republican consultants.
Republican consultant and former top aide to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) John Ashbrook explained that “The American Edge Project is dedicated to the bipartisan proposition that American innovators are an essential part of U.S. economic health, national security and individual freedoms.”
“The group’s board is set to include Susana Martinez, the former Republican governor of New Mexico; Bradley Smith, a former Republican commissioner on the Federal Election Commission; and Chris Carney, a former Democratic congressman from Pennsylvania who’s now at a consulting firm, two people said,” according to The Post.
Facebook spokesman Andy Stone stated that “The U.S. leads the world in technology and we should be proud of that fact and promote it.” Stone added that “We’re working with a diverse group of stakeholders to help build support for our industry, and while we’re leading an effort to start this coalition, it’s one of many we are contributing to and supporting.”
As bipartisan forces threaten to regulate Big Tech, Facebook has put its lobbying efforts into high gear. The Post claimed that, according to federal ethics records, Facebook spent “$16.7 million last year to influence regulators.” Over the first few months of 2020, Facebook has already reportedly “shelled out an additional $5.2 million, making it the seventh-biggest spender in the nation’s capital across all industries, according to data compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics.”