Facebook quietly bankrolled small, grass-roots groups to fight its battles in Washington

In early March, weeks after senators advanced a sweeping bill to expand competition in the tech industry, a regional newspaper more than 2,000 miles from Silicon Valley ran a defensive op-ed.

“Instead of attacking these digital platforms, we need to work with these companies toward innovation and access for our businesses to survive,” Clayton Stanley, the president and CEO of The Alliance, an economic development organization in northeastern Mississippi, wrote in the Mississippi Business Journal.

The argument echoed warnings in op-ed pages throughout the country, from Orange County, Calif., to Nashua, N.H., and a national ad campaign starring Stanley himself, in which he contends Washington’s “misguided” agenda is a danger to America’s small businesses.
The ads, however, were funded not by local businesses, but by American Edge, a political advocacy group founded by a single corporation: Facebook.

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