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Hypocrite much?

Jim Jordan Likes to Pretend He’s Worried About Big Tech. Here’s the Truth.

The Republican representative has a troubling history of campaign donations from Big Tech—and it’s spilling into the rest of his work.

Representative Jim Jordan
Spencer Platt/Getty Images
Ohio Representative Jim Jordan

Representative Jim Jordan, the Ohio Republican running for House speaker, has made no secret of his dislike for the technology industry, repeatedly accusing major platforms of censoring conservative voices. But his outspoken stance belies a duplicity regarding Big Tech when it comes to his biggest financial backers, whom he’s hiring as advisers, and even the legislation he has quietly tried to kill.

“Big Tech is out to get conservatives, and is increasingly willing to undermine First Amendment values by complying with the Biden administration’s directives that suppress freedom of speech online,” Jordan said earlier this year, when he subpoenaed the chief executives of Alphabet, Amazon, Apple, Meta, and Microsoft to testify about content moderation. A few months later, he accused the chair of the Federal Trade Commission, which is in charge of enforcing antitrust laws, of being “against what’s good for the consumer.”

If Jordan were to become speaker, his new power could add fuel to the anti–Big Tech vitriol in the House. But a look at his campaign donors and Hill staff suggests he may be all talk.

Jordan has accepted more than $760,000 in total campaign donations from the communications and electronics industry since he first ran for Congress in 2006, according to OpenSecrets. And technology companies or industry-friendly organizations sponsored 17 trips, worth a combined total of about $39,000, for Jordan and his staff between 2012 and early 2023, according to financial disclosure statements reviewed by The New Republic.

Jordan also has ties to influential conservative organizations aiming to block or roll back antitrust regulations. His fourth-largest campaign donor since the very beginning (excluding the House Freedom Caucus PAC) is Koch Industries. Over the past 50 years, the billionaire Koch brothers’ sprawling network has, among other things, sought to slash government regulations on antitrust policy.

Jordan and his staff have gone on more than 55 trips funded by the Heritage Foundation, financial disclosure forms show. The conservative think tank opposes meaningful antitrust reform and has received more than $1.5 million in donations from Google, and $275,000 from Facebook. Jordan has participated in events for both the Heritage Foundation and the Koch network.

Jordan’s staff isn’t just accepting the tech sector money as a perk, either. The representative’s office is hiring people whose background predisposes them to oppose antitrust protections. For example, James Tyler Grimm, Jordan’s top adviser on tech issues, is an alum of the Antonin Scalia Law School at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia. The law school is home to the Global Antitrust Institute—which is funded by tech companies including Google, Amazon, and Qualcomm, and which teaches a more hands-off approach to antitrust regulation.

Grimm has received nearly $18,000 in private travel expenses from companies that oppose increasing antitrust protections, financial disclosure forms from 2016 to early 2023 show. He has also accused antitrust regulation of infringing on the “American dream” and punishing success.

Jordan’s Judiciary Committee staff director, Chris Hixon, is another Antonin Scalia Law School graduate. House financial disclosure forms show that from 2017 to 2021, Hixon and his family had investments worth about $1 million in a mutual fund whose largest holdings were in technology companies.

Most recently, Jordan’s office hired lawyer Adam Cella in May to help with antitrust work. Before joining Jordan’s team, Cella worked as an attorney adviser for FTC Commissioner Christine Wilson. But before that, he worked for six years at the law firm Axinn, Veltrop & Harkrider—specifically, as an associate in the firm’s antitrust group. Axinn repeatedly represented Google against accusations that the company violated antitrust laws. In recent years, Cella himself has opposed antitrust reform.

When asked for comment, Jordan’s office pushed back on the stark contradiction between the representative’s public anti-tech stance and his seemingly cozy relationship with the companies.

“Chairman Jordan has issued over 20 subpoenas in his Big Tech investigation this Congress, interviewed over 20 current and former Big Tech employees, held Mark Zuckerberg accountable, and introduced legislation to stop Big Tech’s censorship of speech,” Jordan’s spokesperson Russell Dye told The New Republic. “His actions speak for themselves.”

They do. Jordan has continually voted in ways that actually benefit the tech industry. In March 2021, Jordan—then a member of the House Judiciary Committee—dissented to a subcommittee report on antitrust violations, arguing it was overly partisan. The following year, he rejected a bipartisan package of bills that would have increased antitrust protections and made it harder for a few massive companies to dominate the entire sector.

Jordan has subpoenaed multiple tech company executives, but his investigations have yet to produce any results. Meanwhile, he has introduced legislation that he claims would stop tech platforms from censoring conservatives—but even that has problems.

In July 2021, he and Representative Cathy McMorris Rodgers proposed a plan to make it harder for Big Tech companies to moderate content and easier for people to sue the platforms. His plan would have sped up the litigation process for antitrust cases but didn’t address how the entire process is still biased in favor of the tech industry.

Jordan’s plan would also have stripped the FTC of its antitrust enforcement authority and given that power solely to the Justice Department. The plan never made it to the floor for a vote, and was unlikely to succeed anyway given Democratic opposition. But the measure did have massive support from one of his big donors: the Heritage Foundation.

Jordan has repeatedly targeted the FTC since proposing that measure, claiming the agency and its chair, Lina Khan, are trying to censor major technology platforms. Khan accused Jordan in July of carrying out a “campaign to intimidate and harass” her agency’s staff and detract from the FTC’s antitrust enforcement work.

Jordan’s actions speak for themselves—as do his biggest donors and his office staff. His duplicity regarding Big Tech is important to keep in mind as he runs for speaker of the House. If he wins the gavel, Jordan will be in charge of determining which investigations are allowed to move forward and of allocating resources to those probes. He will be in charge of determining which bills make it to the floor, and who gets to speak during the debates.

So it’s important to know whom he’s loyal to, because it doesn’t seem to be his constituents. It might not even be his own party.