- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 14, 2020

A growing advocacy group is quietly organizing a right-leaning coalition of the nation’s tech elite to wield greater influence in Silicon Valley, amid growing concerns that Big Tech has turned on conservatives.

The Lincoln Network’s invitation-only gathering meets quarterly in Menlo Park, California, which is also home to Facebook’s headquarters, bringing together dozens of computer engineers, software developers, and activists from every corner of the tech universe.

Garrett Johnson, a co-founder of Lincoln Network, said the effort was a first of its kind and already making waves in a region famous for rocking the status quo.

“We think it’s really important to try to bring people together who believe in free markets and a light-touch approach,” Mr. Johnson said.

The closed-door meetings’ existence has not previously been made public.

The Lincoln Network, which first added full-time employees in 2016, bills itself as the “largest community of tech professionals devoted to building an alliance of liberty and technology.”

Among the tech policy issues the group aims to address are government regulation, civil liberties and problems surrounding the cost of living and housing.

Mr. Johnson noted that Silicon Valley faces challenges from both the federal government in Washington and the state government in Sacramento, such as the recently passed labor law AB 5 that codified criteria on who qualifies as contractors as opposed to employees.

The group’s first meeting of 2020 will be held next month and feature a briefing from Club for Growth President David McIntosh about his group’s priorities in the 2020 elections.

Mr. McIntosh praised the Lincoln Network’s entrepreneurs, who he described as creating products, value and jobs necessary to drive economic growth.

“I’m looking forward to discussing the policy and political challenges that conservatives face in creating opportunities for all Americans, growing their businesses, and becoming more politically active,” he said in a statement. “More and more, conservatives think big tech is working against them, but it is the Liberty Movement that will work to ensure the tech industry continues to be an engine of innovation and prosperity for our country.”

As the Lincoln Network aims to build in-roads in the tech community and between Silicon Valley and Washington, others are looking to drive a wedge between the political right and tech leaders.

The liberal media relations firm Unbendable Media helped organize an anti-Facebook campaign late last year with groups such as liberal media watchdog group Media Matters and Demand Justice, a liberal activist group focused on the judiciary.

The campaign was primarily concerned with Facebook’s interaction with right-leaning media figures, its willingness to allow conservatives on its platform, and its sponsorship of an event with the Federalist Society, an organization of conservatives and libertarians that advocates for an originalist interpretation of the Constitution.

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