Hawley embodies the rising threat facing some of the world’s most powerful companies, as political leaders of all ideological stripes sign on to break up or otherwise rein in online giants like Facebook, Google and Amazon. And it reflects how in the U.S., the modern GOP’s reluctance to tread on business can give way to larger worries about how major corporations are transforming society.
The Republican freshman’s anti-tech leadership has been “unbelievable,” says unlikely admirer Matt Stoller, a former aide to Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and a fellow at the advocacy group Open Markets, which is pushing for Washington to crack down on the industry’s biggest players. “He’s definitely the most aggressive and assertive anti-monopolist on the Republican side — and, frankly, the entire Senate,” Stoller says.
Some of Hawley’s past supporters, though, are warning him that he’s going too far. They include Americans for Prosperity, the advocacy powerhouse backed by industrialists Charles and David Koch, which spent $2.1 million in ads helping to elect Hawley in 2018. Now, the group is opposing some of his legislative proposals, including one that would have federal regulators vet online platforms for political bias. In March, AFP ran online ads targeted at Hawley that warned against flirting with the idea of breaking up big tech firms.