Rep. Bob Goodlatte is retiring at the end of his current congressional term.
But before he exits stage right, critics charge the longtime congressman may be doing a little payback for his #2 campaign donor.
According to Politico, Goodlatte is pushing an amendment to Sen. Rob Portman’s anti-sex-trafficking bill that “would limit the civil liability tech platforms could face.”
Supporters of Portman’s bill are angry about the move, charging it undercuts the bill’s effectiveness and calling it “harmful to the rights of victims.”
But Google, a– perhaps the— major opponent of Portman’s bill, supports watering it down. And Google’s parent company, Alphabet, Inc. just so happens to have been the second-largest donor to Rep. Goodlatte’s virtually uncontested 2016 re-election campaign.
According to OpenSecrets.org, Alphabet donated a total of $18,100 to Goodlatte in the 2016 cycle, a hefty amount for a congressman who won his race with 66 percent of the vote.
In 2014, when Goodlatte ran with no opposition whatsoever, Google donated $21,400 to his “campaign.”
Facebook, which is also rumored to oppose Portman’s bill as drafted and at which Goodlatte’s son previously worked as a designer, has also donated substantial sums to Goodlatte.
In 2016, the tech giant gave Goodlatte $15,400, making it his #3 political contributor.
In 2014 when Goodlatte ran for re-election uncontested, Facebook gave him $15,500.
If all this smells fishy, Goodlatte says it’s not, noting in prepared remarks, “In crafting this legislation, we consulted with local prosecutors, and also with the Department of Justice. There are significant difficulties in prosecuting websites like Backpage for knowing facilitation of sex trafficking, since these kinds of advertisements rarely, if ever, will say the person advertised is a ‘victim of sex trafficking.'”
“A more effective approach in combatting these websites is to charge them with the facilitation and promotion of prostitution. H.R. 1865 (115) therefore makes it a crime to use an interstate facility with the intent to promote or facilitate prostitution,” Goodlatte’s prepared statement continues.
True or not, this is the kind of thing you can bet a Democratic opponent would make a big stink about, were Goodlatte running for re-election.