Swamp For Real: Are Nancy Pelosi, Cory Booker, And Chuck Schumer Too Conflicted To Regulate Facebook?

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Written by Dana Sanchez
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U.S. Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., speaks to voters during a campaign stop, Sunday, Feb. 17, 2019, in Manchester, N.H. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)

Big tech is under threat by the Trump administration.

On Friday, reports emerged that the Justice Department is preparing an antitrust probe of Google. On Monday, Reuters reported that the DOJ has jurisdiction over Apple’s practices as part of a wider review into the behavior of tech companies. And the Federal Trade Commission reportedly has oversight of Facebook and Amazon to see how they could be harming competition, CNBC reported.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Sen. Chuck Shumer (D-NY) are politicians who have conflicts when it comes to regulating big tech. Should they stay away from regulating Facebook and recuse themselves?

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Pelosi and her husband, Paul, made investments in companies that have become the bane of the “New Left” elected on Nov. 6, The Street reported. Financial disclosures filed after the 2018 midterm elections show that they placed up to $250,000 on Facebook call options, bought up to $500,000 worth of AT&T shares, and bet on up to $5 million on bullish Amazon call options dated to 2020 in October alone.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Minnesota congresswoman Ilhan Omar are dedicated Amazon critics.

Pelosi has a vested interest in the success of Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg for her own financial gain, The Street reported. This could be a problem.

As lawmakers prepared to question Zuckerberg over the Cambridge Analytica scandal in 2018, Roll Call reported that almost 30 lawmakers had stock in Facebook — including some who could potentially be questioning Zuck.

Pelosi’s office tried to distance the Democratic leader from her husband when asked about Facebook being listed on her disclosure. “These investments are Mr. Pelosi’s not Leader Pelosi’s. Leader Pelosi plays no role in this investment and has no stock investments of her own,” an aide said.

No other Democratic presidential candidate has tapped into the Silicon Valley zeitgeist over their careers like Cory Booker, Recode reported. Booker
has fundraised to the tune of a half-million dollars from the internet industry over his five years in the Senate, from people like LinkedIn’s Hoffman, Salesforce’s Marc Benioff, Google’s Eric Schmidt, Emerson Collective founder Laurene Powell Jobs, and early Facebook exec Sean Parker.

Booker has been critical of Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass) for her plan to break up Facebook. He said her plan “sounds more like a Donald Trump thing to say, like, ‘I’m going to break up you guys’,” Booker said.

Now he’s calling out the big tech giants including Facebook and Google.

He recently tweeted: “Tech platforms are becoming engines for discrimination, harassment, misinformation and extremism while stifling innovation. We need to use every antitrust remedy – including breaking up firms – to protect consumers, competition and our democracy.”

Don’t want to regulate Facebook?

Shumer intervened on Facebook’s behalf in 2018, telling a Democratic critic of the company to back off amid growing animosity toward the company, New Haven Register reported. The Senate Minority Leader told Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA) he shouldn’t be trying to hurt the company but should rather find ways to collaborate.

In 2017, Warner introduced legislation that would have forced Facebook to identify people or groups who bought political ads on its site. During the 2016 election period, Shumer raised $38,900 from Facebook employees, according to the Center for Responsive Politics — more than any other lawmaker raised from Facebook employees during that cycle.

Schumer’s daughter worked for Facebook as a marketing manager, New Haven Register reported.