Josh Mandel, a far-right, former Ohio State nominee currently running for the Senate, recently joined the conservative chorus opposing Big Tech. But before he spoke out against Silicon Valley, Mandel was a Facebook stock investor that made tens of thousands of dollars.
And even after he opposed Facebook, Mandel still owned at least some of the company’s shares.
In 2018, while Ohio’s treasurer at the time, Mandel posted $ 7,645 in capital gains from his assets on Facebook, according to his most recent government financial report. Its 2017 disclosure also reveals $ 1,335 in revenue from its stake in the social media giant, and its 2016 report claimed profits are multiples of $ 28,206. The disclosures also list joint holdings with his then-wife at Intel and Microsoft.
Like a number of right-wing conservatives, Mandel entered the ideological battle for the role of technology companies in political discourse. During an interview with Fox News on February 26, he accused “conservative censorship” of “Silicon Valley arrogance.”
“These big tech companies think they are above the law,” Mandel told the TV channel. “Like Hollywood actors, they want to lecture for those of us who live in the heart of the country, in places like Youngstown, Toledo and Dayton. And, you know, seven days a week and twice on Sunday, I trust the instincts and opinions of Joe and Jane Ohio Taxpayers much more than some radical elite figures in Silicon Valley or Hollywood. “
But during Mandel’s monologue, he still held Facebook shares. His campaign provided the Daily Beast with a transaction report on Monday showing that Mandel sold 29 Facebook shares for $ 263.80 for a profit of $ 7,650 10 days later. A Mandel spokesman said the former state official no longer has a stake in the company at the time of the sale, but the company did not provide The Daily Beast with documentation to support this claim.
“Josh has been very outspoken against Big Tech and their crackdown on Trump-backed conservatives like Josh, so he decided to ditch all Facebook shares,” the spokesman wrote in an email.
The Mandel disclosure in 2017 also reveals a stake in Alibaba Group Holdings, the parent company of Alibaba.com, China’s answer to Amazon and the 31st-largest company in the world by Forbes. IN tweet On February 16, Mandel called on his supporters to “fight China’s economic deception.”
While it’s unclear how many Facebook shares Mandel bought and sold over the years, he made over $ 88,000 in trading, including call options. According to Ben Edwards, a securities expert at the William S. Boyd Law School at the University of Nevada in Las Vegas, who studied the information Mandel disclosed, the figures suggest the company was one of the most significant assets in Mandel’s financial portfolio.
“While it’s impossible to know how big he was at the time on Facebook, it’s likely that this was one of his biggest investments,” Edwards said. “The disclosure discloses option revenue for Facebook, Goldman Sachs and a number of other financial services firms. If he sold covered calls to generate additional income, he would probably only do so for relatively larger positions. ”
There is no evidence that social media companies selectively censor conservative votes. Indeed, Conservatives consistently outnumber Liberals in Facebook engagement, a fact reflected in posts Twitter account which tracks the ten most popular Facebook posts daily.
In April, Twitter took away Mandel’s tweet for violating the rules against “hateful behavior.” Mandel posted a question for the poll: “Of the various types of illegal immigrants flooding the border, more crimes will be committed … by Muslim terrorists” or “Mexican bandits.”
After Twitter deleted the tweet, Mandel blamed it on “ultra-liberal thugs in Silicon Valley,” prompting plaudits from the crowd at the Right to Life event in Toledo.
In an interview after the event, Mandel said the offending tweet was the work of an assistant, but he is still “proud” of it.
While Mandel has taken on the mantle of criticism at Big Tech, some of his biggest sponsors hail from Silicon Valley. David Bloomberg, the managing director of San Francisco-based venture capital group Blumberg Capital and a leading technology investor, together with Bloomberg’s business partner Michael Armand, donated a total of $ 21,600, Salon said last month. And John Chambers, the former Cisco CEO who now heads JC2 Ventures, and his wife donated $ 10,800.
Now Mandel finds himself in a cramped Republican field seeking to replace outgoing Republican Senator Rob Portman in 2022, including an alleged bid from J.D. Vance.
Vance has his own Big Tech hypocrisy. Self-styled blue collar, law-trained writer from Yale University also spoke out against Big Tech recently, but this $ 10 million Super PAC donation from billionaire Peter Thiel has sparked much of the rumor about Vance’s bid for a Senate seat.
Thiel is a co-founder of PayPal, one of Facebook’s early investors, and remains a member of the Facebook board of directors.