×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Tulsi Gabbard Files $50 Million Suit Over Google Ads Suspension

Tusli Gabbard, the Hawaii representative making a long-shot bid for the presidency, filed a $50 million lawsuit on Thursday against Google, accusing the platform of “silencing” her by suspending her Google Ads account shortly after the first Democratic debate.

Gabbard filed the suit in federal court in Los Angeles, accusing Google of violating her First Amendment rights and her free speech rights under the California constitution. According to the complaint, Gabbard’s Google Ads account was suspended for several hours on June 28, as people were searching for her name after the debate. She also claims that Gmail designates her campaign’s emails as spam at a higher rate than other candidates’ communications.

The suit is reminiscent of a complaint filed by Gabbard’s Republican colleague, California Rep. Devin Nunes, against Twitter in March. In that suit, Nunes accused Twitter of “shadow banning” his account, and also accused the service of allowing users to defame him. Nunes’ suit sought $250 million in damages.

The Gabbard suit notes that such accusations typically come from conservatives.

Popular on Variety

“The company has been criticized by many on the right for censoring content that favors conservative viewpoints,” the suit states. “However, Google’s favoritism of political and policy ideas is more nuanced and self-serving. Simply put, Google supports viewpoints, political causes, and candidates that favor its policy positions over those that do not.”

Gabbard’s suit alleges that Google censored her because she has called for tougher government regulation of Google. She also sets herself apart from other prominent Democrats on that front, noting that Google employees and executives contributed generously to Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. She argues that the Obama administration “championed many of the top policies on Google’s wish list,” including shutting down an antitrust investigation.

The suit contends that Google wields unaccountable power to influence voters’ access to candidate information.

“Google’s arbitrary and capricious treatment of Gabbard’s campaign should raise concerns for policymakers everywhere about the company’s ability to use its dominance to impact political discourse, in a way that interferes with the upcoming 2020 presidential election,” the suit argues. “In this case, Google has sought to silence Tulsi Gabbard, a presidential candidate who has vocally called for greater regulation and oversight of (you guessed it) Google. But this could happen to any candidate running in any election.”

Google issued a statement on Thursday saying that Gabbard’s acccount was briefly suspended due to “unusual activity,” and denied that it had anything to do with Gabbard’s political views.

“We have automated systems that flag unusual activity on all advertiser accounts — including large spending changes — in order to prevent fraud and protect our customers,” said Riva Sciuto, a Google spokeswoman. “In this case, our system triggered a suspension and the account was reinstated shortly thereafter. We are proud to offer ad products that help campaigns connect directly with voters, and we do so without bias toward any party or political ideology.”

More Politics

  • Cenk Uygur

    Bernie Sanders Retracts Endorsement of Young Turks Founder Cenk Uygur After Backlash

    Bernie Sanders pulled his support for Cenk Uygur’s congressional bid, with the Vermont independent in part acknowledging that Sanders’ supporters were “frustrated” about the endorsement. Sanders, who’s running for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, cited Uygur’s announcement Friday that he would not be accepting any endorsements. In a statement, Sanders alluded to sexist and other [...]

  • Pete Buttigieg

    Here's Who's Raising Money in Hollywood for Pete Buttigieg

    The Pete Buttigieg campaign released its top bundlers on Friday evening, as it continues to open up its fundraising process to media scrutiny. Buttigieg released the names of 157 members of his “investors circle,” each of whom has raised at least $25,000 for his campaign. Buttigieg is now the most prolific fundraiser in Hollywood, with [...]

  • Ivanka Trump

    Ivanka Trump Reportedly Set to Speak at CES 2020

    Ivanka Trump, President Donald Trump’s daughter and an adviser to the president, is scheduled to appear on a panel at CES 2020 in January, according to a published report. Ivanka Trump will appear on a panel set for Jan. 8 at 3 p.m. at the Las Vegas confab with Gary Shapiro, president and CEO of [...]

  • Donald Trump Hollywood Racism

    House Judiciary Committee Votes to Impeach President Trump

    The House Judiciary Committee voted to adopt two articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump on Friday morning, sending the matter to the full House for a vote next week. The articles accuse Trump of abusing his power by pressuring Ukraine to interfere in the 2020 election and of obstructing the impeachment inquiry. Both articles [...]

  • Boris JohnsonConservative Party rally on eve

    Boris Johnson Returns as Prime Minister After Election, Pledges to Deliver Brexit

    UPDATED: The third general election in Britain in four years has returned former London mayor Boris Johnson as prime minister and given his Conservative Party a commanding majority in Parliament. Johnson campaigned on a promise to finally pull the U.K. out of the European Union after three-and-a-half years of political infighting since Britons voted to [...]

  • Boris Epshteyn

    Sinclair Drops Political Commentary Segments From Boris Epshteyn, Ameshia Cross

    Sinclair Broadcast Group has decided to scrap the political commentary segments that have aired across its vast station group since 2017. Boris Epshteyn, former Trump campaign official turned chief political analyst for Sinclair, has been delivering commentary segments that were mandated to run adjacent to local newscasts on all Sinclair stations since the spring of [...]

  • From left House Speaker Nancy Pelosi,

    House Leadership Unveils Impeachment Articles Against President Trump

    House Democrats unveiled two articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump on Tuesday morning, accusing him of abusing his power and obstructing Congress in its impeachment inquiry. Two committee chairmen — Jerrold Nadler and Adam Schiff — laid out a case that Trump interfered in the 2020 election by pressuring Ukraine to announce an investigation [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content