Republicans Investigate State Department’s Conservative Censorship Funding

House Foreign Affairs Republicans have demanded the State Department provide more information about its funding of groups that regulate conservatives and free speech.

On Tuesday, the group sent a letter to Secretary of State Antony Blinken, claiming the department’s subagency, the Global Engagement Center (GEC), had expanded its mission well beyond its original purpose of fighting terrorism.

The lawmakers accused the GEC of funding censorship by providing resources to groups that target conservative media outlets under the guise of diminishing disinformation. The letter also revealed the committee would postpone reauthorizing the GEC until the Republicans’ concerns were addressed.

The Republicans claim the GEC funded the Global Disinformation Index (GDI), a foreign data-driven advocacy organization that “created blacklists of U.S. domestic media voices to cripple U.S. citizen journalists’ advertising revenue.”

They alleged that GDI, which receives funding from George Soros’s Open Society Foundations, often labels right-wing outlets as being at risk of spreading disinformation and left-wing and establishment outlets as being the least likely to circulate fake news.

In addition to funding the GDI, the State Department partnered with the Institute for Strategic Dialogue (ISD), the Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensics Research Lab, and Moonshot CVE on combating misleading content. However, the Republicans argued the federal government cannot scrap the First Amendment to curb “disinformation” or “misinformation.”

The lawmakers noted that government officials may not circumvent the First Amendment by inducing, threatening, and/or colluding with private entities to suppress protected speech.

The Republicans also requested all documents and communications about the State Department’s contracts, grants, and cooperative agreements relating to several organizations, including the Alliance for Securing Democracy and the Google Jigsaw.

They demanded all documents, emails, and correspondence to/from employees, contractors, subcontractors, or consultants at the GEC mentioning “disinformation” and “misinformation” relating to several media outlets, including the Washington Examiner, RealClear Politics, and the New York Post.

The letter concluded by mentioning that the first head of the GEC after its 2016 founding, Richard Stengel, published an op-ed in the Washington Post in 2019 calling for an effective end to the First Amendment. The Republicans claimed that Stengel’s op-ed raised questions about the founding vision of the GEC.

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