Conservative Group Heritage Foundation Turns Down 6-Figure Donations from Big Tech


The Heritage Foundation turned down large donations from Big Tech giants Google and Facebook last year in the days leading up to the 2020 election.

The outgoing conservative think tank president Kay Coles James wrote letters to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Google CEO Sundar Pichai rejecting the six-figure contributions, Axios reported.

“I’m writing to inform you that The Heritage Foundation is returning the $150,000 donation we received from Facebook,” James wrote to Zuckerberg on Oct. 29, 2020.

“We cannot in good conscience accept money from a company that repeatedly and blatantly targets conservative speech on your platform.”

James accused Facebook of blocking traffic to its Daily Signal news site and using “supposedly unbiased third-party fact-checkers” as gatekeepers.

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She also criticized Facebook for temporarily limiting the reach of a New York Post story about the contents of Hunter Biden’s laptop prior to the election.

“Every time a new form of censorship comes to light, your company apologizes and promises to do better,” she wrote.

“Enough with the apologies. Fix it.”

James wrote a similarly scathing letter to Pichai, formally rejecting a $225,000 donation from Google.

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“I don’t think I need to recite the many examples of bias against conservatives on your platforms,” she wrote, noting that YouTube had censored some Heritage Foundation videos.

“Most recently you added a prominent label to our election integrity video that was clearly meant to cast doubt on the credibility of our well-sourced claims about the risks of voting by mail,” she wrote.

James added, “Instead of being a true friend of free speech, you are increasingly using your market dominance to act as partisan censors eager to suppress speech with which you don’t agree.”

The letters were released March 25, the day before Zuckerberg and Pichai were scheduled to give testimony before the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

The Heritage Foundation has previously been criticized for accepting donations from Google and Facebook.

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The conservative think tank is not the only one rejecting donations from Big Tech. Rep. Ken Buck, the ranking Republican on the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Antitrust, Commercial and Administrative Law, announced in March that he would also stop accepting donations from Big Tech companies, Axios reported.

He received $2,500 from Google NetPAC and $2,500 from Amazon PAC in 2020, according to Federal Election Commission records.

“As the lead Republican on the antitrust subcommittee working to hold Big Tech accountable for their anticompetitive and monopolistic behavior, I cannot continue to accept campaign donations from Facebook, Google, or Amazon,” Buck said in a statement, according to Axios.

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Erin Coates was an editor for The Western Journal for over two years before becoming a news writer. A University of Oregon graduate, Erin has conducted research in data journalism and contributed to various publications as a writer and editor.
Erin Coates was an editor for The Western Journal for over two years before becoming a news writer. She grew up in San Diego, California, proceeding to attend the University of Oregon and graduate with honors holding a degree in journalism. During her time in Oregon, Erin was an associate editor for Ethos Magazine and a freelance writer for Eugene Magazine. She has conducted research in data journalism, which has been published in the book “Data Journalism: Past, Present and Future.” Erin is an avid runner with a heart for encouraging young girls and has served as a coach for the organization Girls on the Run. As a writer and editor, Erin strives to promote social dialogue and tell the story of those around her.
Tucson, Arizona
Graduated with Honors
Bachelor of Arts in Journalism, University of Oregon
Books Written
Contributor for Data Journalism: Past, Present and Future
Prescott, Arizona
Languages Spoken
English, French
Topics of Expertise
Politics, Health, Entertainment, Faith