It’s time to annul the Democratic Party’s marriage to Big Tech.

By Adriel Hampton

For years, Democrats heavily courted and cultivated relationships with corporate giants like Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google. For a time, it was seen as mutually beneficial. Politicians raised money from these corporate executives, party operatives went to work at these companies, and, in return, legislators didn’t ask too many questions about these massive companies’ business practices. Big Tech was considered the “safer” corporate option for Democrats, then, say, Big Oil or Big Pharma.

big tech apps on phone

But that time is over. Big Tech has made clear again and again that it is no friend of the Democratic Party, and that in fact, its business practices are directly in contradiction to the Party’s stated values. So why are the Party’s most prominent consulting firms – its network of the most powerful pollsters, admakers, and PR pros – still working with tech giants like Amazon and Google?

Last month, Global Strategy Group (GSG), one of the Party’s largest polling and communications firms, with clients including the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and countless others, was caught helping Amazon to union bust. 

GSG has taken heavy fire for this work, and apologized and promised not to engage in anti-labor activity again. And there’s a good chance the Democratic Party will make some changes to its contracting process to avoid doing business with union-busters in the future. But this is a narrow response to an extremely broad and serious problem. And it hasn’t led to GSG – or other Democratic firms – from dropping their Big Tech ties. 

Consider the Democratic polling firm GQR. They help Democrats win tight races – and they also work for the Information Technology Industry Council (ITI), a trade organization funded by Google, Amazon, Facebook, and Apple that runs public relations interference in opposition to antitrust enforcement. ITI’s CEO, Jason Oxman, decries the “backward-looking approach” of regulators attempting to ensure the law is enforced, highlighting the employment and innovation impact of Big Tech while downplaying the legitimate social and economic consequences of letting half a dozen companies command so much power over Americans’ lives. 

The same problematic Big Tech ties show up across the Democratic consulting landscape. Bully Pulpit Interactive, one of the leading firms for Democratic digital advertising, helped Sens. Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff (both D-GA) win their historic victories in 2020 – and helps Mark Zuckerberg manage his public image. Ben LaBolt, one of BPI’s partners, who previously had been a press secretary on President Obama’s re-election campaign, is quoted in news articles as a spokesperson for Mark Zuckerberg’s political activity. 

SKDK is a major player in Democratic PR and communications. The “D” in SKDK is Anita Dunn – a top advisor to President Biden and previously to President Obama. The firm has lobbied for offshore tax breaks for Apple and Google and fought for public financial incentives for Amazon when the company was considering placing a headquarters campus in New York City.

Some Democratic-aligned consultancies initially saw clients like Google, Amazon, Facebook, and Apple as benign or even benevolent forces in the world. Any such illusions should now be erased. 

Time and again, Big Tech has prioritized profit over the public good. These companies have harmed workers, small businesses, consumers, and our children’s mental health. They have aggressively fought against anything that would constrain their revenue and profits: unionization, fair taxation, antitrust regulation, consumer privacy protections.

Big Tech companies aided ICE’s war against migrant communities and international crackdowns on climate activists. They have allowed their platforms to be used for spreading disinformation that weakens our democracy and misinformation that undermines public health. They spread hate and extremism.  

These companies have demonstrated all the behaviors of monopolies, stifling competitors and consolidating more and more power.  When investigated on any of these abuses, they lie to Congress and the public. They spend millions on misleading lobbying campaigns to prevent meaningful regulation from keeping them in check. 

Big Tech companies are not friends to progressives. Either these Democratic consulting firms should drop their Big Tech clients, or the Democratic Party should find new consultants.