After Twitter was caught last month “shadow-banning” Republicans, while giving Democrats unrestricted voice, the social-media giant insisted it has no political agenda. But records of its political contributions show board members, top executives and major shareholders have all given overwhelmingly to Democrats, including Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, while snubbing Republicans and Donald Trump.
Federal records reveal 80 percent of Twitter’s corporate PAC contributions in the 2018 election cycle have gone to Democratic candidates, none of whom are moderates. Liberal Democrats also got top dollar in the 2016 race.
The lobbying records I reviewed, moreover, show Twitter has sought to influence Congress and federal agencies on behalf of Democratic causes and against President Trump’s policies.
Vice News last month broke the story that Twitter limited the visibility of Republican Party Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel and several Republicans leading Hill investigations into the Obama administration’s efforts to spy on the Trump campaign, including Reps. Devin Nunes (Calif.), Matt Gaetz (Fla.), Jim Jordan (Ohio), Mark Meadows (NC) and John Ratcliffe (Texas).
San Francisco-based Twitter blamed it on a search-engine filter deployed against “bad” actors, such as racists, trolls and users inciting violence, which it maintains accidentally ensnared Republicans, while curiously failing to affect any Democrats.
“We enforce our rules without political bias,” Twitter Chief Legal Officer Vijaya Gadde said in a statement.
But Republicans aren’t buying it. They blame the unequal treatment on political bias, and they argue the timing is suspicious. They say Republican voices are being suppressed on the 355 million-user platform just months before the highly contentious November congressional elections.
They certainly have a point about bias. Senior Twitter executives heavily favor Democrats over Republicans in their political giving.
Federal Election Commission records show that Gadde, for starters, has given exclusively to Democratic candidates, including the maximum donations allowed to both Clinton’s and Obama’s campaigns. In 2016, she gave $2,700 to Democratic candidate Kamala Harris of California, who won her US Senate bid.
Twitter CEO and co-founder Jack Dorsey also donates only to Democrats. And in 2017, he and executive chairman Omid Kordestani together donated $530,000 to the ACLU to fight Trump’s executive order imposing a temporary travel ban on immigrants from high-risk Muslim countries, which Dorsey called “upsetting” but which the Supreme Court recently ruled constitutional. All told, Twitter gave $1.6 million to the anti-Trump ban effort.
Kordestani is a big Democrat donor, contributing the maximums to Clinton and Obama, as well as to former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. In 2011, moreover, the Tehran-born exec gave $35,800 to the Obama Victory Fund and another $30,800 to the Democratic National Committee.
Also snubbing Republicans is Twitter Chief Financial Officer Ned Segal, who has given exclusively to Democrats, including several thousands of dollars to Obama and former presidential candidate John Kerry. Segal has also contributed to DNC coffers.
Then there’s former Twitter CEO, current board director and major stakeholder Evan Williams. He’s shelled out more than $600,000 for the Democratic Party and Democrats running for federal office, FEC records show. Meantime, he has stiffed Republicans and the GOP.
What’s more, Evans in the past two presidential races pumped an additional $750,000 into Priorities USA Action — the largest Democratic Party super PAC — which contributes to leftist groups to help them turn out the vote for Democrats. Priorities USA is heavily funded by billionaire Trump-hater George Soros.
This worries Republicans who see Twitter’s growing political clout and ability to sway elections
As one of Twitter’s largest investors, Williams has a lot of clout on the board. SEC records show that among Twitter officers and directors, Williams holds the largest stake — almost 4 percent — in the publicly traded company.
After the 2016 race, Evans said he was “sorry” Twitter may have helped Trump get elected and regretted that the free speech platform Twitter facilitated rewarded such “extremes.” No doubt adding to his remorse was the $323,000 he spent on the Hillary Victory Fund.
Last month, Twitter purged more than 380,000 of Trump’s followers, claiming they were fake accounts, and it’s now assisting special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of Trump for alleged obstruction of justice based in part on his tweets.
Twitter did not respond to questions about its one-sided pattern of political donations.
While the company says it’s not engaged in political censorship, it’s clearly run by Democratic donors and activists. And though it says its algorithms for policing “healthy conversations” aren’t politically motivated, it’s clear that their effect is the censorship of Republicans and conservatives. And the Silicon Valley giant’s software engineers earlier this year admitted on hidden camera to anti-Trump, anti-GOP bias involving Twitters’s shadow-banning policies, according to Project Veritas.
This worries Republicans who see Twitter’s growing political clout and ability to sway elections ahead of the high-stakes congressional midterms.
GOP incumbents up for reelection say Twitter’s giving unfair advantage to Democrats by suppressing their voices. Last week, Gaetz reportedly filed an FEC complaint against Twitter, alleging it’s illegally making an unreported “corporate donation” to his Democratic opponents by making him less visible to voters. He called on the FEC to fine the company.
Some see a wider conspiracy by liberal-controlled Silicon Valley to rig elections for Democrats.
“Remember what Google did to the Republicans in California a week before our primary. They said our philosophy was Nazism. Remember what Twitter continues to do to conservatives, a shadow ban,” House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy said. “This has got to stop especially before we go into this campaign.”
Paul Sperry is a former Hoover Institution media fellow.