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Facebook employees donated big bucks to Congress members

Members of the House and Senate committees set to question Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg received campaign contributions from Facebook employees.

Protestors Call For Consumer Protection And Privacy Outside Facebook HQ
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg meets Congress this week.  

As Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg testifies before Congress this week, he's addressing House and Senate members who've received sizable campaign contributions from Facebook employees and its political action committee. 

Members of the Senate Judiciary Committee and Senate Commerce Committee, which conducted a joint hearing with the Facebook chief on Tuesday, have received a total of $604,000 in contributions since 2007, according to the nonpartisan and nonprofit Center for Responsive Politics. Commerce Committee members received $369,000 in contributions, while Judiciary Committee members received $235,000 over the period.

On Wednesday, Zuckerberg is addressing the House Energy and Commerce Committee, where he is expected apologize for the social network's role in spreading fake news and hate speech, allowing foreign countries to interfere in elections, and failing to protect the user data. Members of that committee received nearly $381,000 in contributions since 2007, according to CRP.

Since 2014, Sen. Cory Booker, a Democrat from New Jersey, has received $44,025 through Facebook contributions, making him a top recipient during that period. Sen. Kamala Harris, a Democrat from California, has received $30,990, while Rep. Anna Eshoo, a Democrat from California, got $39,800.

Zuckerberg's testimony comes amid mounting pressure to answer to lawmakers following the revelation that data consultancy Cambridge Analytica acquired data for as many as 87 million Facebook users and then reportedly may have misused it for political ads during the 2016 US presidential election.

Facebook didn't respond to a request for comment. Last April, Facebook said it's important for the company to "develop relationships with elected officials and candidates for public office who share our vision of an open Internet and a culture of innovation."

The social-networking company has its own political action committee, which makes contributions to federal candidates. Facebook allows its employees to engage in personal political activities as long as they're conducted on their own time and with their own money. 

"Employees must keep such activity separate from work and never represent that such activities are being conducted on behalf of Facebook," the company says.

Over the past 10 years, Facebook-related contributions to federal candidates totaled $7 million, with Democrats getting 65 percent and Republicans getting 33 percent. Facebook also spent more than $11.5 million lobbying Congress, according to CRP.

All but nine of the 55 members on the House Energy and Commerce Committee have received Facebook contributions over the last 10 years, USA Today reports. Committee Chairman Greg Walden, a Republican from Oregon, received $27,000, and ranking member Frank Pallone, Jr., a Democrat from New Jersey, received $6,000, according to CRP.

Last week, Walden and Pallone said in a joint statement: "This hearing will be an important opportunity to shed light on critical consumer data privacy issues and help all Americans better understand what happens to their personal information online."

Now playing: Watch this: What you need to know about Facebook's Zuckerberg testifying...

Separately, Facebook and its employees have given more than $1.3 million to 266 House candidates and $1.1 million to 134 Senate candidates over the last decade, according to MapLight. Another $700,000 has been donated to 14 presidential candidates. 

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