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By Selected News Articles @ 1:47 PM :: 982 Views :: First Amendment, Pierre Omidyar

A Leftist Billionaire Vowed To ‘Reimagine Capitalism.’ Then He Colonized A Federal Agency.

'I shudder to imagine how much sway Pierre Omidyar and his network might hold'

by Luke Rosiak,, Jun 10, 2024  

In September 2020, the Omidyar Network, the activism vehicle of former eBay chief Pierre Omidyar, issued a “Call to Reimagine Capitalism in America,” bemoaning “structural racism, colonialism, paternalism,” and proposing to build “an explicitly anti-racist and inclusive economy.”

Omidyar was spending millions of dollars, largely funneled through dark money groups, to put Joe Biden in the White House. After his election victory, one of Omidyar’s groups, called Reset, explained how it would use the Biden presidency to implant its people to pursue its goals, specifically targeting agencies it believed had sway.

“Most promisingly, the Biden administration may open the door for specific actions on antitrust and competition policy in the Justice Department and Federal Trade Commission,” it said, adding that it would “support a constellation of organizations working on research, communications, and advocacy to ensure they are more than the sum of their parts.”

Three years later, the France-born Omidyar has succeeded to an extent seldom seen, with a vast swath of top FTC posts going to people who worked for his “constellation” of groups — and sometimes continued to do so even as they joined the federal government.

Lina Khan, the FTC’s chair, was previously the legal director of the Open Markets Institute, funded by the Omidyar Network. Sarah Miller, the government agency’s chief of staff, left her role as executive director of the American Economic Liberties Project, funded by the Omidyar Network, to take the job.

FTC’s chief technology officer, Stephanie Nguyen, served as a Civic Science Fellow for Consumer Reports, also funded by the Omidyar Network. FTC technology advisor Erik Martin previously worked with the Democracy Fund, which is solely funded by Omidyar. FTC’s spokesman, Douglas Farrar, worked for Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, funded by Omidyar. In May 2022, Alvaro Bodeya, a former board member of the Omidyar-backed group Free Press, was appointed as the FTC’s fifth commissioner, giving it a Democrat majority.

The list goes on, with figures such as FTC associate director Shauol Sussman, attorney advisor Alex Petros, and attorney Kurt Walters all coming from the activist groups seeded by Omidyar.

Perhaps most alarming, by January 2024, all four officials listed on the website of AI Now Institute, an activist group funded by Omidyar to regulate how big tech firms use artificial intelligence, had been hired as FTC advisers, while apparently continuing to work at the nonprofit.

The advisers contributed to key FTC outputs including a report to Congress on “online harms” including “disinformation.”

The report relied on partisan groups lamenting “far-right violence,” and adopted critical race theory in questioning the legitimacy of hate crime enforcement because it turns out that minorities, such as blacks and Muslims, “disproportionately” commit them. It lamented that “Facebook played a critical role in spreading false narratives about the election immediately before the January 6, 2021, siege of the United States Capitol.”

“The only effective ways to deal with online harm are laws that change the business models or incentives allowing harmful content to proliferate,” it concluded.

Just as Reset pledged, key roles at the Department of Justice were also captured. DOJ Assistant Attorney General for the Antitrust Division Jonathan Kanter had worked, through his previous law firm, as a lawyer for the Omidyar Network. The division’s Senior Counsel, Sally Hubbard, came from the Open Markets Institute, and Deputy Chief of Staff Robyn Shapiro came from the American Economic Liberties Project.

At least 12 people linked to Omidyar nonprofits have worked in the Biden White House itself, including Joelle Gamble, a “principal” at Omidyar Network who was named Deputy Director of the National Economic Council, and Omidyar Network Vice President Paula Goldman, who was named to Biden’s National AI Advisory Committee.

One of Omidyar’s top goals is breaking up companies, particularly tech firms, to prevent them from being something close to monopolies. In some ways, that’s an unexpected focus: Omidyar himself made his billions through eBay, a tech firm that had a stranglehold on its corner of the market. Conservatives also share a distrust of big tech firms like Meta, TikTok, and Google, and want their power limited.

But the reasons identified in Reset’s manifesto — seemingly attacking big tech firms for not being helpful enough to Democrats in elections — highlight the strident politics that come with the man who has successfully bought his way into Washington.

Omidyar Network has pledged to “commit to the calling of Angela Davis,” referring to the longtime communist who was acquitted of murder after she bought one of the guns used in the killing of a judge, and who was involved in the Jonestown suicide cult.

A Capital Research Center (CRC) probe fashioned Omidyar as the new version of liberal mega-donor George Soros. His massive partisan activities have flown under the radar because he prefers to influence politics through ostensible charity groups rather than direct campaign contributions. The Omidyar Network says it has paid out more than $1.86 billion and “reimagines critical systems, and the ideas that govern them, to build more inclusive and equitable societies.”

Its efforts to reshape politics in the United States frequently rely on infiltration, funding former conservative Bill Kristol to make it seem like many Republicans don’t like Donald Trump; a “Faith in Public Life” project to push liberal causes among religious people; and a “Millennial Action Project” to convince young conservatives to adopt liberal policies.

Omidyar has also heavily pushed the ability to vote by mail, and paid the reliably liberal Associated Press to write about AI and other journalists $50,000 to write about “reimagining capitalism.”

Omidyar has escalated his efforts since the emergence of Trump, writing that “Trump is a dangerous authoritarian demagogue” and “endorsing Donald Trump immediately disqualifies you from any position of public trust.”

The FTC and the Omidyar Network did not return requests for comment.

Parker Thayer, a researcher who has extensively looked at Omidyar’s presence in Washington, says the full extent of his influence is likely unknown.

“The Biden Administration has already proved itself highly susceptible to the influence of billionaires’ pet nonprofits that don’t have an entire government agency full of former staffers at their disposal,” said Thayer. “I shudder to imagine how much sway Omidyar and his network might hold.”




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