Big Tech employees have landed top posts on the Biden-Harris transition team and Republicans are raising concerns that the additions to the team and the next administration are “evidence” that Silicon Valley “works hand in glove” with Democratic politicians.
At least nine different Biden transition team members or advisers previously held positions at Facebook, Google or Twitter. And several transition team members worked in the Obama administration before joining one of the tech giants and then later reentering politics as part of the Biden team.
Facebook’s former director and associate general counsel of strategic response, Rachel Liebner, is serving on the transition’s review team for the intelligence community. Liebner was a deputy general counsel at the CIA during the Obama administration before joining Facebook.
Zaid Zaid, a former member of Facebook’s public policy team for strategic response, is serving on the review teams for both the State Department and International Development. Zaid formerly served as a special assistant to former President Obama and associate White House counsel during the Obama administration.
Facebook’s former manager of governance and strategic initiatives, Christopher Upperman, will serve in the Small Business Administration. He previously served in the Obama administration before joining Facebook.
Deon Scott joined the transition’s review team for the Department of Homeland Security after working at Google. Scott worked at DHS in the Obama administration before joining Google.
While Leibner, Scott, Upperman and Zaid are the most recent additions to the Biden team with backgrounds in the tech world, they’re far from the only ones.
Erskine Bowles, who is advising the Biden transition team, served on Facebook’s board for eight years, Politico noted in November. Another former Facebook board member, Jeff Zients, is the transition’s co-chair.
Jessica Hertz, the transition’s general counsel, is a former director at Facebook. Louisa Terrell, the incoming White House director of legislative affairs, was a former public policy director at Facebook. And Austin Lin, on the agency review team for the Executive Office of the President, was a former Facebook technical program manager.
Twitter public policy director Carlos Monje left the tech giant to join Biden’s transition team in October, Politico reported at the time.
But Republicans are slamming the additions, raising concerns that Big Tech will “run the government.”
“Big tech billionaires in Silicon Valley consistently work to advance the interests of the Democratic Party while silencing those with whom they disagree. And they do so while enjoying a special immunity from liability under Section 230 — which effectively operates as massive corporate welfare,” Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, told Fox News. “The fact that top executives at Big Tech are planning to work for a potential Biden administration is just more evidence that Big Tech works hand in glove with the Democratic Party.”
And Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., told Fox News that “if Joe Biden is sworn in as President, Big Tech will run the government.”
“He’s bought and paid for by Big Tech monopolists that want to censor our speech, spy on us, and partner with China,” Hawley said.
“Agency review team members and future administration appointees will be committed to implementing the policy ideas over 80 million Americans supported during the campaign,” a Biden transition official told Fox News. “Each member of the Biden-Harris transition and incoming administration will have values that align with the President and Vice President-elect on a host of issues including the tech sector.”
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Meanwhile, in 2016, the Obama administration came under scrutiny for its close relationship with Google.
In 2016, The Intercept documented 55 instances of Google employees taking positions within the Obama administration, and 197 cases of federal employees leaving the Obama administration for Google.
Meanwhile, Fox News reported last week that top executives at Facebook and Twitter donated tens of thousands of dollars to Biden’s campaign—contributions that a Biden aide said would not change the president-elect’s “fundamental values.”
“No campaign contribution is going to change Joe Biden’s fundamental values, including his belief that corporations who abuse their power should be held to account,” a Biden aide told Fox News last week.
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The Biden campaign also noted last week that the president-elect has been critical of Facebook and pointed to instances where Biden has urged the social media network to more aggressively police misinformation.
A Fox News review of FEC records shows that top executives at the social media companies made large donations to the Biden campaign, including several who gave the legal maximum of $2,800.
Facebook struggling to balance civility and growth: New York TimesVideo
Fox News identified zero Facebook or Twitter executives who donated to Trump’s campaign.
And the executives were not alone. FEC records revealed that dozens of Twitter and Facebook employees with “manager” or “director” in their titles donated at least $1,000 to Biden’s campaign.
Just two Facebook employees with “manager” or “director” in their title donated to Trump’s campaign, neither of whom gave more than $300, according to FEC records. Zero Twitter employees with those titles donated to Trump’s campaign, FEC records show.
Facebook did not respond to Fox News’ request for comment.
According to Facebook’s rules on political activity for its employees, the company “encourages informed participation in the political process,” and allows employees to participate in “personal political activities, on their own time, with their own funds and in accordance with their own political preferences and desires.”
“Pursuant to Facebook’s Political Activities & Lobbying Policy, no personal political contribution or expenditure may be, or will be, coerced by Facebook or its executives,” Facebook’s policy states.