Mother Jones: An Ex-Google Lobbyist Who Backed Jim Jordan Is Leading Big Tech’s Bid to Court the Left

April 9, 2021 Media

How is Big Tech navigating the Biden era? Consider the newest industry trade group promoting its interests in Washington. Funded by Amazon, Facebook, Google, Twitter, Uber, and other companies, and headed by a veteran tech lobbyist, the Chamber of Progress—a name that plays on the traditionally Republican-leaning Chamber of Commerce—aims to court Democrats and promote “technology’s progressive future.” The apparent strategy: back key pieces of the Democratic agenda in order to fend off tech regulation.

Launched last month by Adam Kovacevich, a former government affairs honcho for Google and Lime, Chamber of Progress says it will push for progressive taxation, action on climate change, and the expansion of voting rights. In an interview Wednesday, Kovacevich said the group plans to pursue these goals through steps like hosting events and issuing op-eds.

The Chamber of Progress has its eye on influencing centrist Democrats. The group’s initial press release included a quote from Rep. Ami Bera (D-Calif.), a member of the pro-business House New Democrat Coalition. “As the largest caucus of pro-growth Members in Congress, our members support innovation and common-sense regulation,” Bera said. But Kovacevich says he also wants to engage with progressives. That’s tougher. Progressive advocates are sharply critical of the group, deriding its supposed support of liberal causes as ham-handed and cynical.

“This is clearly kind of an astroturf group, intended to head off policymakers’ effort to break up these companies,” said Sarah Miller, executive director of the American Economic Liberties Project, which calls for dismantling big tech companies.

Miller argues the new group’s outreach to the left is too late, coming after many progressives have decided “that these massive technology companies and their business models are fundamentally incompatible with democracy.” Tech giants championing voting rights won’t change that, she said. “Maybe it would have been effective a year ago,” Miller added. “But now, good luck.”