The Heritage Foundation has stopped accepting donations from tech giants amid an escalating battle with Silicon Valley over censorship, The Post has discovered.
The influential conservative suppose tank — which famously turned pro-Trump after preliminary skepticism of his presidential candidacy, brokering appointments of cupboard members together with Mick Mulvaney, Jeff Sessions and Betsy DeVos — stated it would be part of a gaggle of greater than 40 right-leaning analysis outfits refusing to simply accept cash from Big Tech companies together with Google, Twitter, Facebook, Apple, and Amazon, in line with a memo obtained by The Post.
“As you know, there is a growing momentum in Washington to rein in Google and other technology companies, either through antitrust action or changes in liability protections you enjoy,” Heritage President Kay Coles James wrote within the memo to the tech companies. “Heritage is in the midst of reviewing these proposals, and the last thing we need is for anyone to think that our conclusions have in any way been influenced by a relatively small donation from your company.”
In October 2020, Heritage turned down a $225,000 donation from Google and returned $150,000 it acquired from Facebook. Previously, Google had donated a complete of $1.55 million to Heritage and Facebook had given $275,000, in line with a Heritage spokesman. Donations to Heritage in 2019 totaled $87 million, in line with the suppose tank’s most up-to-date tax filings.
Last month, dozens of conservative suppose tanks together with the Family Research Council, Media Research Center, Center for Renewing America, and Citizens United pledged to show down donations from huge tech. Other huge right-leaning analysis nonprofits like American Enterprise Institute, Mercatus, Cato Institute, the Manhattan Institute, the Hoover Institution and the Rand Corporation haven’t introduced positions on tech donations.
Tech firms are within the crosshairs of the Federal Trade Commission, the Department of Justice’s antitrust division, and dozens of states attorneys normal over their growing clout. In response, they’ve considerably ramped up lobbying. In 2020, Facebook spent $19.7 million, Amazon spent $17.9 million, Google spent $7.5 million, Apple spent $7.4 million, and Twitter spent $1.5 million, in line with public filings.
Donations to suppose tanks, in the meantime, will be made privately, making it a extra discreet method of influencing coverage and shaping laws. But a rising variety of suppose tanks are involved about potential conflicts of curiosity.
A Heritage spokesman stated the group — which will get most of its donations from smaller donors regardless of big-name trustees that embrace Rebekah Mercer — has felt escalating bias from Big Tech in the course of the previous two years.
In early 2019, Google dissolved an advisory board on synthetic intelligence that Heritage’s James had served on after it acquired a petition signed by 2,500 staff demanding that she be eliminated, calling her “vocally anti-trans, anti-LGBTQ, and anti-immigrant.” James blasted the transfer in a Washington Post op-ed saying Google “has given in to the mentality of a rage mob’ and calling the accusations against her “an odd one, because I’m a 69-year-old black woman who grew up fighting segregation.”
Just a few months later, Google’s YouTube eliminated a video posted by Heritage, saying feedback made about transgender points had been “hate speech.” YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki met with James on the suppose tank’s DC workplace to resolve the battle, however a sticking level was a video posted by Heritage’s web site The Daily Signal wherein pediatrician Dr. Michelle Cretella says, “See, if you want to cut off a leg or an arm you’re mentally ill, but if you want to cut off healthy breasts or a penis, you’re transgender.”
While Heritage admitted the feedback had been controversial, a spokesman stated on the time that “YouTube should welcome more discussion rather than eliminating speech at the mob’s command.”
In 2019, Twitter briefly banned a Heritage worker who tweeted he believed transgender girls who’re born male shouldn’t be allowed to take part in girls’s sports activities competitions, classifying the tweet as hate speech. Heritage mediated the scenario and the worker regained entry to his account with out deleting the tweet.
Earlier this yr, Amazon eliminated a ebook on transgenderism from its web site, “When Harry Became Sally,” written by former Heritage worker Ryan T. Anderson. In February, US Sens. Marco Rubio, Josh Hawley, Mike Lee, and Mike Braun wrote Amazon a letter demanding a proof for eradicating the ebook from its platform. Amazon responded by going a step additional, saying it was eradicating all books that steered LGBTQ+ identities had been psychological sicknesses.