Missouri’s new conservative U.S. senator, Josh Hawley, said Tuesday that he’s willing to work with Democratic socialist Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York on a probe into the power and policies of big technology companies like Google and Facebook.
Hawley, a former state attorney who ousted Democrat Claire McCaskill in a tight race in November, has long been a fierce investigator into the practices of tech companies.
During his time as the top law enforcement official in Missouri, he subpoenaed Facebook shortly after news broke that at least 50 million Facebook profiles may be have been shared with third-party software developers. He also took on Google, for allegedly violating the state’s consumer-protection statute, and ride-hailing tech company Uber.
Hawley, 39, said Tuesday that he and Ocasio-Cortez, 29, haven’t yet discussed cooperating, but he left the opportunity open, saying both of them are the youngest members of their respective chambers and they grew up with technology being ingrained in their everyday lives, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.
Both lawmakers could find common ground as Ocasio-Cortez recently lashed out against big technology corporations for their sponsoring of a conference where a panel questioned global climate change.
But the possible cooperation between the lawmakers may still raise eyebrows among some in Missouri, who voted for Hawley and against McCaskill, seeing her as too progressive for the state.
McCaskill herself said she was “confused why she’s the thing,” in reference to Ocasio-Cortez, calling the New Yorker “a bright shiny new object” that benefited from relentless media coverage.
NetChoice, a trade association representing e-commerce firms, criticizing the possible bipartisan effort to curb their business practices.
“Sensible legislators need to avoid the allure of weaponizing antitrust for political aims,” Carl Szabo, NetChoice’s vice president and general counsel, told the newspaper. “Politicizing antitrust exchanges good policy for partisan politics and creates a disastrous precedent.”
“Hipster antitrust threatens small businesses that rely on large platforms to find new customers,” he added. “If Sen. Hawley and Rep. Ocasio-Cortez want to support small business back home, they should applaud platforms — not attack them.”