The Heritage Foundation has stopped accepting donations from tech giants amid an escalating battle with Silicon Valley over censorship, The Post has realized.
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 — stated it can be part of a gaggle of greater than 40 right-leaning analysis outfits refusing to just accept cash from Big Tech corporations together with Google, Twitter, Facebook, Apple, and Amazon, in response to 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 corporations. “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 response to a Heritage spokesman. Donations to Heritage in 2019 totaled $87 million, in response to 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 massive tech. Other massive 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 common 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 response to public filings.
Donations to think tanks, in the meantime, may 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 stated 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 through 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 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 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 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 website The Daily Signal through which 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 have 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 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 state of affairs and the worker regained entry to his account with out deleting the tweet.
Earlier this yr, Amazon removed a book on transgenderism from its website, “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 an explanation for removing the book from its platform. Amazon responded by going a step additional, saying it was eradicating all books that urged LGBTQ+ identities have been psychological diseases.