On Thursday, the Federal Election Commission approved a new proposal by Google not to mark campaign emails as spam.
Google’s plans, first reported by Axios In June, candidates, political party committees and leadership political action committees will be allowed to apply for the program, which exempts their messages from Gmail’s spam detection system. While Google didn’t need the FEC’s approval before rolling out the plan, it sought a vote earlier this summer to ensure the program wasn’t at risk of violating current election rules. In Thursday’s ruling, the FEC confirmed that Google’s plan was legal.
“It’s hard for me to get over the fact that this is a unique benefit given to political committees and only political committees,” Commissioner Ellen L. Weintraub said at the FEC’s Thursday open meeting. Because of the exclusivity of the program, Weintraub compared it to Google having its own “lookalike” at political groups. ” offers to contribute.
Google announced its political filtering plan after recent research found the company was flagging more Republican fundraising emails as spam than Democratic lawmakers and candidates. The study angered the GOP and prompted critical statements and an invitation to Google’s chief legal officer, Kent Walker, to explain the company’s filtering decisions in a private meeting on Capitol Hill.
Despite being offered as a concession, Google took issue with the study’s findings, claiming that the researchers examined a small sample of emails and did not consider whether campaigns used appropriate bulk emailing tools already provided within the service.
But Google’s explanation didn’t change the minds of Republicans who are struggling to meet their online fundraising goals this cycle. The New York Times reported last month that the total amount donated to GOP entities and federal campaigns fell more than 12 percent in the second quarter compared to the first quarter. The drop is highly unusual, especially since small-dollar donations traditionally increase as elections approach.
That fundraising drop, combined with the controversial filtering study, sent Republicans into a frenzy over the summer. Sen. John Thune (R-SD) and about two dozen other Republicans have introduced a bill that would ban email providers like Google from algorithmically picking up federal campaign emails. Received by a draft memo The Washington Post Earlier this month, the National Republican Senatorial Committee argued that “Google and its algorithms have given a distinct advantage to Democrat fundraising efforts, causing Republicans to raise millions of dollars less than they should.”
Once Google approaches the FEC to issue a decision on its validity, the commission opens the program to public comment. Almost all of the hundreds of comments filed with the commission were negative. The Democratic National Committee (DNC) argued that Google’s proposal would be a boon to Republicans and open up Gmail to “abusive fundraising tactics.”
“It’s unfortunate that instead of simply stopping the sending of spam emails, Republicans are engaging in a bad-faith pressure campaign — and it’s even more unfortunate that Google bought it,” said Daniel Wessel, DNC deputy communications director. edge In June.
Former President Donald Trump’s campaigns have come under fire for using spammy tactics in his fundraising emails, often using misleading subject lines or imitating voters’ conversations with friends and family on the Internet. Republican candidate for the US Senate in Pennsylvania on Tuesday. Mehmet Oz Came under fire Hours after the FBI searched Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home earlier in the week for sending campaign fundraising emails to supporters with the subject line “FBI RAID – Breaking Information.”
With the FEC’s decision Thursday, Google will soon allow campaigns like Oz’s to apply for the program and ensure that their emails, despite using spam-like methods and language, won’t be filtered out of user inboxes.