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A conservative think tank on Thursday called for the Federal Election Commission to investigate whether tech companies including Facebook, Twitter and Uber are violating campaign finance laws by keeping far-right activist and congressional candidate Laura Loomer off their platforms.
Loomer, a right-wing agitator who this week clinched the Republican nomination in Florida’s 21st Congressional District, has been kicked off major platforms that also include Instagram, PayPal and Venmo for making incendiary and anti-Muslim remarks online.
The complaint: In a letter to the FEC, the right-leaning American Principles Project says the companies’ right to ban Loomer should be reevaluated due to her primary win.
“Under normal circumstances, it would arguably be well within those companies’ rights to take this action,” wrote Jon Schweppe, director of government affairs at APP. “But given that Loomer is now a major party nominee for U.S. Congress, a reassessment may be warranted.”
Schweppe asks the agency to look into whether the tech companies can “legally grant a material benefit to one political candidate, but not another” and whether denying one political candidate access to their services amounts to “an in-kind contribution to the favored candidate.”
Twitter and Facebook said Wednesday they do not plan to reinstate Loomer after her primary win.
The complainants: Schweppe and APP have separately accused major tech companies of “viewpoint suppression” and called for revamping the legal protections that shield them from lawsuits for hosting and taking action against third-party content. Loomer has sued tech companies over allegations of an anti-GOP bias, which they deny, but the claims have been tossed out in court.
In response to the letter, FEC spokesperson Christian Hilland said in a statement: “Anyone may file a complaint with the Commission if she or he believes that a violation of federal campaign finance law has occurred. A federal statutory provision requires confidentiality on enforcement cases, and as a result, we are careful not to comment on any potential matters that may come before the agency.”
Reality check: Loomer, who is running in a deep blue Florida district against Democratic Rep. Lois Frankel, is considered a long shot to win in the general election.