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 think 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 — mentioned it should be a part of a gaggle of greater than 40 right-leaning analysis outfits refusing to just accept cash from Big Tech companies together with Google, Twitter, Facebook, Apple, and Amazon, based on a memo obtained by The Post.
“As , there’s a rising momentum in Washington to rein in Google and different know-how firms, both via antitrust motion or modifications in legal responsibility protections you take pleasure in,” Heritage President Kay Coles James wrote within the memo to the tech companies. “Heritage is within the midst of reviewing these proposals, and the very last thing we’d like is for anybody to think that our conclusions have in any method been influenced by a comparatively small donation out of your firm.”
In October 2020, Heritage turned down a $225,000 donation from Google and returned $150,000 it obtained from Facebook. Previously, Google had donated a complete of $1.55 million to Heritage and Facebook had given $275,000, based on a Heritage spokesman. Donations to Heritage in 2019 totaled $87 million, based on the think tank’s most up-to-date tax filings.
Last month, dozens of conservative think tanks together with the Family Research Council, Media Research Center, Center for Renewing America, and Citizens United pledged to show down donations from large tech. Other large 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 basic 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, based on public filings.
Donations to think tanks, in the meantime, could be made privately, making it a extra discreet method of influencing coverage and shaping laws. But a rising variety of think tanks are involved about doable conflicts of curiosity.
A Heritage spokesman mentioned the group — which will get most of its donations from smaller donors regardless of big-name trustees that embody Rebekah Mercer — has felt escalating bias from Big Tech throughout the previous two years.
In early 2019, Google dissolved an advisory board on synthetic intelligence that Heritage’s James had served on after it obtained a petition signed by 2,500 workers 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 in opposition to her “an odd one, as a result of I’m a 69-year-old black lady who grew up combating segregation.”
A number of months later, Google’s YouTube eliminated a video posted by Heritage, saying feedback made about transgender points have been “hate speech.” YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki met with James on the think tank’s DC workplace to resolve the battle, however a sticking level was a video posted by Heritage’s web site The Daily Signal by which pediatrician Dr. Michelle Cretella says, “See, if you wish to minimize off a leg or an arm you’re mentally unwell, however if you wish to minimize off wholesome breasts or a penis, you’re transgender.”
While Heritage admitted the feedback have been controversial, a spokesman mentioned on the time that “YouTube ought to welcome extra dialogue moderately than eliminating speech on the mob’s command.”
In 2019, Twitter quickly 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 have been psychological sicknesses.