Press Releases

Gov. Phil Scott’s Ties to Big Tech Preceded His Veto of the Vermont Kids Code

Jun 17, 2024

MONTPELIER – Recent revelations about Governor Phil Scott’s campaign contributions from Big Tech lobbyists cast a troubling light on his decision to veto the widely-supported Vermont Kids Code, legislation designed to safeguard children’s online experiences. The veto and the legislature’s subsequent failure to override it comes at a time when families across Vermont are increasingly concerned about the negative impact of unregulated online environments on their children’s mental health and safety, as well as on the heels of the U.S. Surgeon General recommending a warning label on social media platforms.

“Governor Scott’s decision to veto the Vermont Kids Code, ignoring Vermont families’ pleas to protect kids and instead siding with Big Tech industry lobbyists is surprising until you realize that lobbyists from Amazon and Meta are contributors to his campaign,” said The Tech Oversight Project Executive Director Sacha Haworth. “Now, because of Governor Scott’s heedless veto, Vermont families will have to wait at least another year for badly-needed youth online safety protections. Meanwhile, Big Tech companies and their allies plan to keep building up lobbying resources in Montpelier, targeting lawmakers, organizations, and businesses in an underhanded effort to whitewash their true agenda: bigger profits for giant Silicon Valley companies and no regulation, all at Vermonters’ expense.”

Gov. Scott’s Big Tech donations

Last election cycle, Governor Scott has accepted over $3,000 in Big Tech campaign contributions – these numbers may seem small to Beltway insiders, but Scott’s total donations only tallied $300,000:

  • Amazon lobbyists: $2,706
  • Vermont Technology Alliance lobbyists: $250
  • Meta lobbyists: $250

(via FollowTheMoney/OpenSecrets, 2024)

Big Tech’s Influence in Vermont

  • The big tech industry is spending big on lobbying and influence campaigns in Vermont.  Since the 2019-2020 session, big tech companies and trade associations have spent more than $1,000,000 in Vermont (via FollowTheMoney/OpenSecrets, 2024):
    • Apple’s lobbyists have given more than $1,000 to Vermont politicians since 2021.
    • Amazon’s lobbyists have given more than $7,000 to Vermont politicians since 2021.
    • Lobbyists from the Vermont Technology Association and the Entertainment Software Association have together donated roughly $6,000 in Vermont politics since 2021.
    • This session, Google registered lobbyists in Vermont for the first time.
      • In March 2021, Google announced that Vermont businesses had generated $1.62 billion in economic impact due to Google’s products.
      • Since 2011, Google for Nonprofits has donated to 800+ nonprofits in Vermont.
      • In 2020, Google provided over $2.09M in in-kind search advertising credit to Vermont nonprofits through the Google Ad Grants program.
  • This year, Big Tech’s ramped-up lobbying in Vermont has finally started to draw scrutiny:
    • VTDigger, 6/13/24: “Supporters of the bill suggested that tech industry lobbyists had spread misinformation to scuttle it.”
    • Politico, 5/18/24: “Lawmakers described how local businesses echoed tech industry groups. They recalled a deluge of amendment requests to water down the proposals.”
    • The Guardian, 4/15/24: “All the state bills have faced opposition by tech companies in the form of strenuous statements or in-person lobbying by representatives of these firms. Other tech lobbyists needed similar prompting to Bos and Szabo to disclose their relevant tech patrons during their testimonies at hearings on child safety bills, if they notified legislators at all.”
    • Maine Morning Star, 6/6/24: “Vermont bucked the trend of watered down bills by learning from challenges in other states, though the bill still awaits approval from Vermont Gov. Phil Scott. Tech interests remain opposed. NetChoice, a trade association that represents platforms including Meta, sent a letter to Scott asking him to veto the bill.”
Jump to Content