Big Tech-Funded GOP Rep. Trashes GOP Proposals to Rein in Censorship of Conservatives

WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 02: Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) questions Gov. Jay Inslee (D-WA) during a House Energy and Commerce Environment and Climate Change Subcommittee hearing on Capitol Hill on April 2, 2019 in Washington, DC. Inslee, who is a candidate for president in 2020, has said that he …
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Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) attacked conservative proposals Wednesday to address big tech’s political censorship on the Internet. McMorris Rodgers has received over $80,000 from Google and Facebook over her career in Congress.

The House Energy and Commerce Committee held a hearing Wednesday entitled, “Fostering a Healthier Internet to Protect Consumers,” in which members discussed Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. Section 230 grants Internet platforms broader legal immunity from lawsuits for hosting offensive content. Conservatives and many tech experts contend that Section 230 awards social media giants too much legal immunity, which allows Facebook, Google, and Twitter to censor conservative and alternative voices on the Internet.

During the hearing Wednesday, McMorris Rodgers slammed both Republican as well as Democrat proposals to “mandate or dictate free speech or ensure fairness online.” She added that “these proposals are not consistent with the First Amendment.”

“It shouldn’t be the @FCC, @FTC, or any government agency’s job to moderate free speech online,” McMorris Rodgers said. ”Instead, we should continue to provide oversight of Big Tech & their use of #Section230, and also encourage constructive discussions on the responsible use of content moderation.”

“We should have a serious & thoughtful discussion on achieving the balance of #Section230. I’m not for gutting it. It’s essential for consumers and innovators in the Internet ecosystem,” she said. “Misguided and hasty attempts to amend or even repeal #Section230 for bias or other reasons could have unintended consequences for #freespeech and the ability for small businesses to provide new and innovative services.”

While it may appear that the Washington Republican merely discussed the general idea of addressing political censorship on the Internet, a McMorris Rodgers aide confirmed to Politico that her comments during the hearing served as a direct shot at Sen. Josh Hawley’s (R-MO) legislation, the Ending Support for Internet Censorship Act.

A McMorris Rodgers aide said that the congresswoman shares Hawley’s “concerns” about political bias against conservatives; however, she believes his proposal “is contrary to Republicans’ history on government regulation and free speech.”

McMorris Rodgers’ comments on social media censorship remain out of step with President Donald Trump as well as the Americans people’s support for Hawley’s legislation.

During a White House social media summit in July, Trump praised Hawley’s legislation as a “very important” bill to stop censorship of conservatives on the Internet.

Trump said the senator is pushing “very important legislation because we have to do something about what’s happening.”

Further, a July poll found that nearly a majority of American voters, or 48 percent, backed the senator’s Ending Support for Internet Censorship Act. A majority of Republicans and independents support the legislation, while 46 percent of Democrats favor the bill.

The congresswoman’s comments also raise the question over whether she criticized a White House proposal, considering that Hawley’s legislation would have the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) audit large social media companies for political bias, not the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). Whereas, an August CNN report suggested that the White House was considering an executive order to call for the FCC to develop regulations on how and when Section 230 protects social media companies when they moderate or censor content on their platforms.

McMorris Rodgers’ comments may appeal to many Republicans’ free-market sensibilities; although, it appears that the Washington congresswoman may have a conflict of interest when it comes to her opinions on regulating big tech. McMorris Rodgers has raised nearly $80,000 during her congressional career from Google and Facebook. Donations from Google, Facebook, and their political action committees (PACs) extend to both McMorris Rodgers’ campaign, Cathy McMorris Rodgers for Congress, as well as her PAC, CMR (Cathy McMorris Rodgers) PAC.

McMorris Rodgers has received roughly $79,600 from Google and Facebook, including:

  • $3,000 from a Google political action committee (PAC)
  • $2,000 from Facebook’s PAC in March 2012
  • $2,600 from a Google senior vice president in October 2013.
  • $3,000 from Google in September 2013
  • $5,000 from a Google PAC in November 2013
  • $2,000 from a Google in March 2014
  • $5,000 from a Google PAC in March 2014
  • $5,000 from a Google PAC in March 2014
  • $1,000 from a Facebook PAC in March 2014
  • $1,000 from a Google PAC in March 2015
  • $1,500 from a Facebook PAC in September 2015
  • $5,000 from a Google PAC in December 2015
  • $4,000 from a Google PAC in December 2015
  • $5,000 from a Google PAC in March 2016
  • $5,000 from a Google PAC in June 2016
  • $2,500 from a Google PAC in February 2017
  • $500 from a Facebook PAC in March 2017
  • $1,500 from a Facebook PAC in March 2017
  • $5,000 from a Google PAC in June 2017
  • $2,500 from a Google PAC in August 2017
  • $5,000 from a Google PAC in October 2018
  • $5,000 from a Google PAC in October 2018
  • $2,500 from a Google PAC in June 2019
  • $5,000 from a Google PAC in June 2019

Further, Riva Sciuto, who was the communications director for Rep. McMorris Rodgers when she served as the House Republican Conference chair, later became a manager of global communications and public affairs at Google.

McMorris Rodgers’ attacks on conservative attempts to rein in political censorship on the Internet has incensed fellow Republicans on Capitol Hill. Some have wondered whether she remains unaware of the GOP base’s priorities or wants to eventually lobby for big tech after she leaves office.

One senior GOP aide told Breitbart News, “It’s a shame that Cathy McMorris Rodgers has chosen to side with Silicon Valley instead of President Trump and conservatives who regularly have their voices silenced by tech giants. She’s either completely out of touch with voters or angling for a job as a tech lobbyist.”

Update — Added the fact that Rep. McMorris Rodgers’ communications director later became manager of global communications at Google.

Sean Moran is a congressional reporter for Breitbart News. Follow him on Twitter @SeanMoran3.

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