Rep. Byron Donalds (R-FL) said in a letter to SEC chairman Gary Gensler that its investigation of free speech platform Rumble may be influencing the site’s role in the 2024 presidential election.
Donalds wrote to Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) chairman Gensler, in a letter obtained by Breitbart News (see below), as the agency confirmed to Wired that the financial regulator has launched an investigation into Rumble.
Activist investor group Culper Research released a report in April 2023 alleging that Rumble inflated its monthly active user (MAU) count, a key metric for a social media company. Culper Research has an active short position in Rumble, meaning that the company could profit if Rumble’s stock were to decrease.
Rumble CEO Chris Pavlovski has vehemently denied any wrongdoing and has accused the SEC of colluding with Culper Research.
Donalds said that the timing of this investigation into “reeks” of “political interference”:
It is no secret that Rumble has risen to prominence by serving as the preeminent free speech alternative to Big Tech media platforms. Having gone public in September 2022, Rumble is quickly becoming one of the centerpieces of political and social discourse. In 2023, Rumble was granted the exclusive online streaming rights to the Republican presidential primary debates and is home to many who were wrongfully censored or deplatformed by Big Tech, often in coordination with the federal government. With the presidential cycle now in full swing, the timing of this investigation suggests an effort to either implicitly or explicitly influence Rumble’s role in the 2024 election under the threat of constant litigation. [Emphasis added]
In light of these concerns, Donalds demanded to know:
- If the SEC has been contacted by anyone at Culper Research
- If anyone at the SEC rely on the Culper Research report in its opening of the investigation against Rumble
- If the Biden administration has contacted the SEC about the Rumble investigation
Pavloski wrote on X, formerly Twitter, in January:
The playbook to try and destroy $RUM (Rumble) A short seller creates a bogus report and sends it to the SEC. The SEC investigates the bogus report. Then the short seller talks to the media to get a story about how the SEC is investigating the report that started with him. The media happily writes the story. The report is bogus, but that doesn’t matter—it’s all to get investors to sell the stock so the short seller profits. Good news, it won’t work. We saw the attacks coming, and we prepared for them. Prior to going public, we chose to use Google Analytics to track and report our MAUs, so we could be ready for this very moment. This is just the start, they’re coming for us in 2024.
He added, “They can’t stand Rumble’s mission, but they are going to learn quickly how hard we punch back”:
The playbook to try and destroy $RUM (Rumble)
A short seller creates a bogus report and sends it to the SEC. The SEC investigates the bogus report. Then the short seller talks to the media to get a story about how the SEC is investigating the report that started with him. The…
— Chris Pavlovski (@chrispavlovski) January 8, 2024
Sean Moran is a policy reporter for Breitbart News. Follow him on Twitter @SeanMoran3.