US Rep. Zoe Lofgren — a Democrat who’s one of the most vocal opponents of antitrust bills now winding their way through Congress that would target Big Tech — has a daughter who works on Google’s legal team.
That’s a conflict that is stymying legislation to regulate the ever-growing behemoths in her Silicon Valley district, critics on both sides of the aisle say.
Lofgren is senior member of the House Judiciary Committee, which is charged with oversight of Big Tech and antitrust issues. Meanwhile, her daughter Sheila Zoe Lofgren Collins, serves as in-house corporate counsel at Google.
“She has a lot of power in slowing down and even blocking bills,” a person with direct knowledge of the situation told On The Money. “She’s on a war path for the last four months — she’s even spoken openly about her ability to fundraise and is intimidating Democrats about how important tech is for fundraising.”
Lofgren is known to take calls from Apple CEO Tim Cook, this person adds. She’s also seen as an important facilitator for Democrats looking to fill their coffers with tech cash.
“It’s problematic,” said Jeff Hauser, founder and director of the Revolving Door Project, a progressive group that examines money in politics. “It’s definitely a conflict of interest and if I were Lofgren I’d want to address the concerns by recusing myself — not taking a leadership role.”
Hauser alleged Lofgren is “carrying water” for her daughter’s company.
Lofgren didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. Google declined to comment or to make Lofgren Collins available for comment.
The congresswoman’s power isn’t just on the Judiciary Committee: As chair of the California Democratic Congressional Delegation, Lofgren has the power to whip California House Democrats into line. One California congressman supports the antitrust legislation, but is afraid to vote against Lofgren, a source close to the matter told On The Money.
Lofgren readily concedes she is a “critic” of the legislation, which would crack down on Big Tech. She claims the bill would “create more harm than good.”
Still, most in DC are optimistic the legislation in question will make it through.
“The six bills have a lot of momentum,” Garrett Ventry, Republican Congressman Ken Buck of Colorado’s former chief of staff told On The Money.
While he concedes Lofgren is “a power broker,” he says the legislation is “moving up the mountain, not back down.”
The wide-ranging legislation would rein in tech on a variety of issues. One of the main goals of the law would be to end platforms from “self-preferencing” their content. For instance, Amazon would no longer be able to promote its own content on its e-commerce platform. Other rules would crack down on tech’s ability to make acquisitions.
The bills have received bipartisan support in both chambers.