Is Warren a Hypocrite for Taking Money From Employees of Big Tech?

A couple of months ago, Bernie Sanders’ supporters began attacking Beto O’Rourke over the funds he raised for his senate campaign. The issue they zeroed in on was that the Texan ranked number two on the list of politicians who received money from the oil and gas industry. What they failed to specify is that those donors were people who worked in the oil and gas industry. Nevertheless, the total raised from those employees was just a little over 0.6 percent of all the money raised by O’Rourke.

I offer that as a reminder after Politico’s Christopher Cadelago reported today that Elizabeth Warren took money from employees of the same tech monopolies she’s vowed to break up as president.

While Sen. Elizabeth Warren was railing against big tech companies, she was taking their money — plenty of it … Warren took at least $90,000 from employees of Amazon, Google and Facebook alone between 2011 and 2018 … While the donations flowed to Warren’s committee, she was accusing Google, Amazon as well as Apple of using their powerful platforms to “lock out smaller guys and newer guys,” including direct competitors. She’s also criticized the huge sums Silicon Valley firms spend on federal lobbying and taken on Amazon and others over their treatment of workers.

Dave Weigel noted on Twitter that $90,000 represents 0.1 percent of the total Warren raised during that time period. That didn’t stop Cadelago from intimating that she’s hypocritical.

[Warren’s] reliance on the massive companies underscore tech’s pervasiveness in politics and society at large, but also politicians’ unwillingness to separate themselves from its legion of employees who give money.

Cadelago went on to note a similar dynamic with Bernie Sanders.

In 2016, one of Warren’s current presidential competitors, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), received $361,000 from employees of Google’s parent company, Alphabet; $170,000 from employees of Microsoft; $132,000 from Apple employees; and $106,000 from Amazon employees.

One has to wonder if we’ve reached the pinnacle of these ridiculous stories when they come back at the candidate whose supporters launched them in the first place.

When contacted about the Politico piece, Warren’s campaign issued this rebuttal.

“She doesn’t take PAC money and federal lobbyist money. She isn’t holding high-dollar fundraisers where people can buy access. She’s not auditioning for billionaires to start super PACs. And she is proposing breaking up some of the biggest tech companies in the country,” Warren spokeswoman Kristen Orthman told POLITICO. “Clearly, she’s not influenced by their money.”

I would suggest that a stronger reply is necessary. When the villainization of whole industries has reached the point that every employee is automatically tarred with the same broad brush as the worst offenders at the top, it is time to re-evaluate the assumptions that got us here. To put it bluntly, Democrats making a commitment to fight for workers need to be clear that they won’t stand for attempts to disparage people based on where they work.

Nancy LeTourneau

Nancy LeTourneau is a contributing writer for the Washington Monthly. Follow her on Twitter @Smartypants60.