A congressional challenger bared his teeth after a veteran lawmaker tossed softball questions to a contributor at the center of the massive invasion of privacy during a hearing on Capitol Hill.
Javahn Walker, the Democratic candidate who is challenging Rep. Frank Pallone in the June 5 Democratic primary election, issued a statement challenging his foe for hypocrisy and ethical conflicts after Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg
“On Tuesday, Mark Zuckerberg went through his second day of questioning in front of Rep. Frank Pallone for a data breach and selling personal information to Cambridge Analytica in order to influence political campaigns, however we cannot forget how this happened in the first place,” said the 27-year-old challenger. “The fact that many of the politicians that were questioning Mark Zuckerberg Tuesday about his role in the data breach are the same people in Washington that have taken money from Zuckerberg and the rest of Facebook brings up serious questions of our political leaders’ ethical standards.”
Walker said Pallone accepted $7,000 from Facebook since 2012, according to campaign disclosure reports filed with the FEC.
“Do companies like Facebook donate to congressional leaders simply to be nice or do they donate to gain influence in Congress? What are the odds that the perpetrator in this hearing is the same hand that feeds the government, which is supposed to protect people’s information?,” Walker asked.
In his opening remarks at a hearing featuring Zuckerberg, Pallone positively gushed over the billionaire rather than subjecting him to the kind of questioning merited by one who may have enabled the most invasive nonviolent political attack in history.
“Facebook has become integral to our lives,” said Pallone. “We don’t just share pictures of our families. We use it to connect for school, to organize events, and to watch baseball games.” He neglected to mention the platform’s facility in allowing Russian trolls to influence voting in key swing areas.
“Facebook has enabled everyday people to spur national political movements,” said Pallone. “Most of us in Congress use Facebook to reach our constituents in ways that were unimaginable 10 years ago. This is a good thing.”
Walker compared Pallone’s softball questioning of Zuckerberg over Facebook’s sale of personal information to Republican Sen. Marco Rubio quizzing the NRA about school shootings.
“Corporations send checks to our elected officials to dilute our democracy to the point where their CEO gets summoned to Congress for a play date instead of an supposed hearing,” Walker said.
Walker seconded Republican candidate Rich Pezzullo’s demand for Pallone to return the $7,000 that he his campaign has taken since 2010 from Facebook.
“Elected officials cannot preach about protecting our democracy if they continue to take blank checks from so many entities that they have no ethical standards at the end of the day,” Walker said. “Instead of protecting his constituents’ private information, Rep. Pallone has managed to allow their information to reach prying hands. While days will pass with no comment from his office, people’s personal information will continue to be shared every day with prying hands.”
“Being an elected official for 30 years with no primary challengers is how situations like Cambridge Analytica and Facebook come to be,” Walker said. “After 30 years, how much more can constituents take? Being in office this long leads you to work for the corporations and lobbyists than the constituents. If one hits that stage, it is time to step down. And Rep. Pallone is at that stage.”
Pallone acknowledged that, “Facebook can be a weapon for those like Russia and Cambridge Analytica that seek to harm us and hack our democracy.”
Despite his easy questioning, Pallong said, “Facebook made it too easy for a single person, in this instance Aleksandr Kogan, to get extensive personal information about 87 million people. Kogan then sold this data to Cambridge Analytica who used it to try to sway the 2016 Presidential election for the Trump Campaign.”
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