Democrats Who Softballed Mark Zuckerberg Got $641,685 From Facebook

Democrats who softballed Mark Zuckerberg during Congress testimony received hundreds of thousands of dollars from Facebook

Facebook contributed $641,685 to Democratic members of Congress who recently softballed Mark Zuckerberg over the Cambridge Analytica scandal. 

Many of those who grilled him, including Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ), Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA), and Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-CA), had been recipients of staggering amounts of cash from the tech giant, since 2014.

Pjmedia.com reports: The hostility of the questioning did not appear to correlate with the contributions. Sen. Orrin Hatch — who has received $15,200 in donations in the past three years, the sixth largest amount — asked purely softball questions. Sen. Booker — who has received $44,025 since 2014, the largest amount — asked some of the toughest questions. While these donations are perfectly legal, perhaps committee members should be required to disclose them at these hearings.

Facebook has just disclosed that its D.C. spending is on the increase. The company just announced that it spent $3.3 million on its U.S. lobbying effort during just the first quarter of 2018. This represents the largest amount that the company has ever spent in one quarter.

Facebook’s money was spent on lobbying the White House, senators, and representatives, as well as several government agencies, including the Federal Trade Commission and Federal Communications Commission. Its lobbying expenses were directed at privacy and security issues related to its social network, as well as for changes to the immigration system, “including temporary high-tech worker visas and employment-based permanent residency.”

Facebook also provided lobbying support for DACA and net neutrality, and has joined a lawsuit against the FCC following its decision to overturn net neutrality protections. So Facebook has both lobbied the FCC and sued it.

The increase in lobbying spending has been an ongoing trend for Facebook, as well as other high-tech companies. Facebook has spent close to $30 million since 2015 and has doubled its lobbying efforts in Europe over the course of 2017.

In comparison, Amazon spent $3.38 million and Google spent more than $5 million for the first quarter of 2018. Amazon lobbied on taxes, music licensing, and drones. Google lobbied on intellectual property, privacy, and law enforcement access to data stored abroad.

Over the full year of 2017, Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google spent a record amount — about $50 million — on lobbying. So far in 2018, these companies are on track to beat that record. In comparison with other industries, Exxon spent $11.4 million and Merck & Co. spent $6.2M in 2017.

OpenSecrets.org lists all public corporate donations and recipients.