Gainesville – U.S. Sen. Kelly Loeffler picked a strategic spot on Friday for her first in-person campaign stop since coronavirus restrictions were eased: The north Georgia hometown of U.S. Rep. Doug Collins, her chief Republican adversary.
And she took a direct shot at him, telling a crowd of about 75 supporters at an arts center on the edge of downtown Gainesville that the four-term congressman was too cozy with technology firms that were “censoring” President Donald Trump.
“This is completely wrong,” she told the crowd of her rival in a November special election that also features 19 other contenders. “We have to look at how we address that. We have other politicians taking the side of big tech. This is dangerous.”
After weeks on the defensive over her stock transactions, Loeffler and her aides sense an opening surrounding Collins’ ties to Facebook, Google and other social media companies whose practices have alienated some conservatives.
Her new line of attack was spurred by Fox News personality Tucker Carlson, who took aim at Collins and U.S. Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner this week after they sent a letter to House Democrats warning them about their approach to major online firms.
In the letter, the two Republicans told their Democratic colleagues they shouldn’t “punish tech companies simply because those companies succeeded” and that “’big’ doesn’t necessarily mean ‘bad.’”
That apparently outraged Carlson, who said during a monologue on his show Wednesday that he hoped there was a “vigorous primary challenge for these two.” Loeffler swiftly alerted her supporters of Carlson’s vent.
She said Friday she backs legislation to scale back legal protections for social media platforms targeted last month by Trump in an executive order, specifically a Section 230 provision that grants internet companies immunity from lawsuits for content posted on their sites by third parties.
“Right now, Congressman Collins is advocating to support big tech. That’s not what we need to do as a conservative approach to the government,” she said.
Her aides have also highlighted campaign finance records that show Collins received more than $100,000 in campaign contributions from PACS representing tech and media firms such as Comcast, Google and Microsoft during the 2018 cycle.
Collins’ campaign countered by accusing Loeffler, who faced an uproar over stock transactions made on her behalf as the pandemic worsened, of trying to change the subject. A complaint to the Senate Ethics Committee alleging she engaged in insider training was dismissed this week.
“The desperation is pouring off of Kelly like expensive perfume,” said Collins spokesman Dan McLagan, who accused Loeffler of courting executives from “Google and the gang” at a Sea Island event scheduled later this year.
“No one has been tougher on big tech than Doug,” he said, adding: “He literally launched the investigation into big tech and censorship – she’s wining and dining them.”
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