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GOP donors, leaders discussed plans to take on Big Tech, corporations during retreat at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago

  • April 19, 2021

Many top Republican donors, lawmakers and strategists huddled privately over the weekend at Mar-a-Lago, the Florida resort owned by former President Donald Trump, to discuss ways the party can take on corporate America and Big Tech, according to several attendees.

Donors and strategists met throughout the weekend to discuss a “strategy on social media and big tech,” according to Matt Schlapp, the chairman of the American Conservative Union, who said he has been part of these conversations.

“I’m participating in a lot of conservations with people who have substantial means, and there are going to be new ways for people to get there information and to share information and to stay connected with each other,” Schlapp said. He later defined most of these conversations as “informal” and that “plans are still coming together.”

One major player, Republican donor Roy Bailey, told CNBC that he is interested in potentially investing in a social media platform tailored for conservatives, to counter Facebook and Twitter.

“It is something I’m interested in if it can be put together properly,” said Bailey, a Texas businessman who was a key fundraiser for Trump’s 2020 campaign. “I’ve identified a potential platform and there’s a lot of work to do.”

The concept is in its early stages, he said. Bailey also noted that the “platform would be where conservatives can control their own destiny and not worry about censorship.” He declined to comment further on the effort.

Todd Ricketts, a longtime GOP donor who is also the RNC finance chair, is being floated as a potential investor in such a platform.

“He always looks at investing into companies that upend established markets,” Brian Baker, a spokesman for Ricketts, told CNBC.

The discussions come as the party feuds with major corporate leaders over new voting laws pushed by Republicans in states such as Georgia. The tension also comes more than three years after Trump and congressional Republicans lowered the corporate tax rate to 21% from 35%.

Numerous corporate leaders have come out against the Georgia law and others across the country that critics say restrict voters from participating in elections.

Top Republicans have often publicly blasted social media giants such as Facebook and Twitter, claiming they censor conservative voices. The companies deny these accusations. Trump was banned from the two social media platforms in the wake of the deadly Capitol Hill riot on Jan. 6. He was later impeached for inciting the riot, but was ultimately acquitted in the Senate.

There is also infighting among Republicans. Trump on Saturday during the portion of the RNC retreat at Mar-a-Lago took aim at Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., for helping certify the results of the 2020 election.

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