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Ear to the Ground

Top U.S. Tech Firms Fund ‘Extreme’ Right-Wing Causes

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Posted on Nov 14, 2013
mendhak (CC BY-SA 2.0)

The link between tech and the right wing was confirmed in a report by a lobbying watchdog that shows some of America’s largest technology and telecom companies “are backing a network of self-styled ‘free-market thinktanks’ promoting a radical rightwing agenda in states across the nation,” The Guardian reports Thursday.

Through the State Policy Network, an umbrella group of 64 think tanks, Facebook, Microsoft, AT&T and other companies are pushing to slash taxes, oppose climate change regulation, advocate reductions in labor protections and the minimum wage, privatize education, restrict voter rights and lobby for the tobacco industry, The Center for Media and Democracy asserts.

SPN President Tracie Sharp blanched at the suggestion her organization operates as a right-wing lobbying network. In a statement, she said the outfit was dedicated to providing “state-based, free-market thinktanks with the academic and management resources required to run a non-profit institution.”

“Every thinktank,” she added, “rallies around a common belief: the power of free markets and free people to create a healthy, prosperous society.”

Most companies involved declined to comment (or had not done so by the time of publication) on the allegation that they supported extreme right-wing causes.

—Posted by Alexander Reed Kelly.

The Guardian:

The network’s $83.2m annual warchest comes from major donors. These include the Koch brothers, the energy tycoons who are a mainstay of Tea Party groups and climate change sceptics; the tobacco company Philip Morris and its parent company Altria Group; the food giant Kraft; and the multinational drugs company GlaxoSmithKline.

More surprisingly, backers also include Facebook and Microsoft, as well as the telecoms giants AT&T, Time Warner Cable and Verizon.

The CMD study uncovered a public document that listed SPN’s funders in 2010. They included: AT&T and Microsoft, which each donated up to $99,000; and Time Warner Cable and Verizon, which each contributed up to $24,000. In addition, Facebook, Microsoft and Time Warner each sponsored SPN’s most recent annual meeting in Oklahoma City in September.

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