Google Activated Koch Network to Defend it After Federalist Throwdown, Email Reveals

Google Tobias Schwarz/Getty Images

Tobias Schwarz/Getty Images

Google reached out to nearly 100 conservative figures involved with the Heritage Foundation and with Koch-affiliated organizations to help with the company’s messaging after a dust-up with The Federalist this week, according to a new report.

“You may not have seen that NBC has corrected an inaccurate story they put out saying Google was no longer finding and running ads for The Federalist to profit from their content,” Google outreach manager Max Pappas wrote in a June 16 email to the group. “That is not accurate, we are, see Google public tweets below.”

NBC reported that day Google had pulled ads from The Federalist due to content in the site’s content section that Google found objectionable. NBC later clarified that Google had only given The Federalist a warning, but would not pull ads until the third policy violation.

Pappas directed his message to dozens of leaders or staffers affiliated with groups in the Koch network, according to The National Pulse’s Raheem Kassam and Natalie Winters, who obtained the email. The names included Americans for Tax Reform President Grover Norquist; R Street President Eli Lehrer; Competitive Enterprise Institute President Kent Lassman; Heritage Action Executive Director Tim Chapman; Cato Institute Executive Vice President David Boaz; and Reason Foundation editor Peter Suderman.

Some of the most prolific recipients included the American Enterprise Institute, where 13 staffers received the message; the Cato Institute (10); the R Street Institute (8); the Mercatus Institute (5); the Competitive Enterprise Institute (5); and the Charles Koch Institute (3).

The groups have all reportedly received financial contributions connected to Google in recent years. They are also members of the State Policy Network, a group of organizations historically backed by libertarian business magnates Charles and the late David Koch, who died in 2019.

As the relationship between conservatives led by President Donald Trump and tech companies including Google becomes increasingly adversarial, members of the State Policy Network have taken a leading role in defending those companies from regulation. The symbiotic relationship has led to criticism from some on the right, including Fox News host Tucker Carlson, who in December quoted a former Koch employee claiming groups in the Koch network “take money from social media companies to do their bidding.”

In a statement, Heritage Vice President of Communications Rob Bluey — who also received Google’s message — denied funding played a role in his organization’s relationship with Google, saying, “Heritage scholars have criticized Google and other technology companies for caving to the radical left, censoring Heritage content, and pursuing ill-advised policies.”

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