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House Republicans: State Department Hiding Its Funding For Censorship-Industrial Complex

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House Republicans are expanding their ongoing investigation into the federal government’s vast efforts to censor Americans’ ability to speak freely online.

“The federal government cannot circumvent constitutional protections by using private actors to accomplish what the State itself is prohibited from doing,” Texas GOP Reps. Roger Williams and Beth Van Duyne write in a letter to the Global Engagement Center’s (GEC) James Rubin. Williams and Van Duyne chair the Committee on Small Business and the Subcommittee on Oversight, Investigations, and Regulations, respectively.

As The Federalist’s Margot Cleveland reported, the GEC is a U.S. State Department subagency that “funded the development of censorship tools and used ‘government employees to act as sales reps pitching the censorship products to Big Tech.’”

Through GEC, State funded the Global Disinformation Index, a so-called “disinformation” tracking organization “working to blacklist and defund conservative news sites,” including The Federalist. Notably, Rubin and the GEC are named defendants in a lawsuit filed by The Federalist, The Daily Wire, and the state of Texas last month to stop the federal government’s censorship operations.

In their letter to Rubin, Williams and Van Duyne highlighted how the GEC subsidized third-party organizations that “discredit certain small businesses (and their owners) based on their political speech and viewpoints,” which sought to “pressure advertising and social media companies to remove certain businesses’ online advertisements, disallow ad placement on businesses’ websites, remove online speech, and ban accounts entirely.” As noted by the GOP representatives, this censorship apparatus “overwhelmingly” blocked conservative speech.

While Rubin and the GEC have claimed the agency does not target U.S. citizens or businesses, information unearthed in the “Twitter Files” shows that the GEC, as summarized by Williams and Van Duyne, “has sent lists of ‘foreign’ disinformation accounts to social media companies calling for their removal that, in fact, contained American profiles.” “While the GEC’s production to the Committee assigned a primary country for each award’s objective, evidence gives reason to believe that these awards may not have been used solely for foreign purposes,” the letter reads.

Despite the seriousness of the matter, the GEC doesn’t appear to be fully forthcoming in providing information the committee requested. Williams and Van Duyne say the agency’s initial production of sought-after records is “incomplete,” with the GEC appearing to omit “dozens of awards” from the “unredacted list of all GEC grant recipients and associated award numbers from FY 2019 – present.”

“Given some of these awards are publicly viewable on USASpending.gov, it is the Committee’s belief that these awards exist and were omitted without explanation and in violation of the Committee’s request,” the letter reads. “In addition, the GEC produced only cooperative agreements and failed to include any project grants, despite specific phrasing used by the Committee in its production request.”

Due to Rubin and the GEC’s failure to fully comply with the committee’s initial requests, Williams and Van Duyne are demanding the agency forfeit the remaining list of GEC-funded entities and awards by Jan. 22. The Texas Republicans also requested the agency disclose “Unredacted copies of all contracts and related documentation (including communications describing scope of work) for every GEC award, project grant, and cooperative agreement,” a list of all GEC contractors and subcontractors, and more from fiscal year 2018 to the present by the aforementioned deadline.


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