When the Attorney Generals of 48 states joined AGs from Washington, D.C. and Puerto Rico to announce a widespread probe of dominant technology firms, the focus here was that California Attorney General Xavier Becerra did not sign on. Yet, there is another aspect to the story that indicates a political shift occurring with some Republicans raising concerns about Big Tech and monopolies.
We are talking about the Republican Party that is supposed to be a knee-jerk defender of big business. The Attorney Generals probe, as well as a like investigation of the tech industry in Washington, is bipartisan. But some Republicans in California see an opportunity to gain support from voters who tend to favor Democrats while setting the party on a different path.
Assembly Republicans Jordan Cunningham, James Gallagher, Tom Lackey and Chad Mayes are authors of a resolution presented to the legislature that praises and encourages Congress to investigate giant technology companies on antitrust grounds, while at the same time urging the California Attorney General to work with other state AGs to curb Big Tech’s monopolistic powers.
While the resolution introduced in the last hectic days of the legislative session was not addressed, the plea to the Attorney General covered in the resolution apparently fell on deaf ears.
The Attorney Generals and Federal investigators want to see if the big technology companies are engaged in noncompetitive behavior to roadblock competition or even buy up possible competitors to gain a stranglehold on the market. With rich technology companies now scooping up businesses in different industries, this issue of monopolies is beginning to catch the public’s attention.
It wasn’t shocking that Becerra chose not to add the state’s name to the investigation since three of the top five tech companies, Google, Facebook, and Apple, call California home.
But conspiracy theorists and reporters immediately raised questions, checking the technology sectors financial support for the Democrats in California who control the legislature and for Becerra in particular. Meanwhile, conservatives who distrust the rich entrepreneurs who largely side with Democrats politically and who feel conservative issues don’t get a fair hearing on Silicon Valley websites, approve of keeping pressure on the industry.
Not all conservatives are praising the action of the Attorney Generals. The politically engaged libertarian Koch foundations have announced ads to support the tech industry against the AGs’ investigation.
Still, we are hearing cries of dominant corporate power coming from the side of the political aisle that is most often silent on this subject. Perhaps not surprising in an era in which pages of the political playbook are being torn to pieces.
Then again, the move by Republicans to clamp down on monopolies and side with small business and consumers served some Republicans well in a different era. Teddy Roosevelt busted up trusts in his day and probably would exclaim, “Bully!” if he heard about the resolution introduced by California Republican legislators.