American Greatness Publisher Chris Buskirk spoke with Hal Lambert, the founder of Point Bridge Capital, which launched the first-ever Republican stock index: MAGA. Learn more at Point Bridge Capital and follow Hal on Twitter at @MAGAINDEX.
Chris Buskirk: I am Chris Buskirk. He is Seth Leibsohn. This is the Seth and Chris Show. Welcome back! This is the ultimate hour of the—it’s not the penultimate day of the week, ante-penultimate day of the week, and we are joined by Hal Lambert. He is the author, most recently, of a really interesting column at American Greatness: “Tech Giants are the Biggest Threat Facing Trump Supporters.” Hal is not your ordinary political writer. He actually has a job. Hal, you’ve actually worked for a living right?
Hal Lambert: That’s correct. Writing is not my full –
Buskirk: Well the funny thing is that you’re pretty darn good at it. Right?
Lambert: Thank you!
Buskirk: Apparently, the conceit of some of our—I guess we call them former friends now—at places like The Weekly Standard, is that actually lots of smart people can write and have interesting things to say.
Lambert: Well thank you very much, I appreciate it.
Buskirk: Hal, you come out of the world of finance but I want to talk a little about some of the things you’re doing now before we jump into your piece. You’ve got some things going that kind of bridge the gap between politics and business and entrepreneurship. Do you mind talking about that a little bit?
Lambert: Sure, happy to. I’ve been in the world of investment for about 20-plus years. I’ve managed money for large firms and I have my own firm now. I have an investment management firm but I’ve also been involved in politics for over a decade. I basically merged these two. It’s something I think is pretty interesting that no one’s ever done before. Part of it stems from both aspects of each of those areas. I created a Republican stock exchange traded fund. And you may say, “Well how do you know if somebody’s company is Republican or not?” And what I did was I took the S&P 500 and I screened it for the political contributions of the pack and the employees of the companies in the S&P 500. Through rules based methodology—I took the top 150 and created an ETF that’s supportive of Republicans.
The reason I did this is because you’ve got people out there investing and, this kind of came from the investment side of it, they may boycott a company or boycott a product or they may be upset about what’s going on in the country from a political standpoint, and they don’t realize that they’re investing in companies, maybe through the mutual funds, that are actively helping trying to elect candidates that are against their political views.
Buskirk: Then you have these other instances like Kellogg famously pulled all their advertising for Breitbart, right? They’re actively trying to deprive people on the Right of advertising revenue.
Lambert: Exactly. Yeah, the Left has been doing this for a long time and they’re very good at it. There were groups out there that were actively trying to keep companies from being supportive of the Republic National Convention because Donald Trump was the nominee. So they were trying to scare big, big companies away from contributing for that effort. It’s an ongoing battle, and it’s been going on and the Right hasn’t been really participating in that.
Buskirk: Is that part of your broader strategy is to basically just kind of get the right up to speed on the economic financial battle that’s going on?
Lambert: It is. In fact, I’ve been tweeting about it. My handle is @magaindex. I failed to mention that the ticker on the ETF is MAGA, which many people say stands for “Make America Great Again,” but it’s something people can remember. Yeah, I’m going to be talking a lot and writing a lot about corporate money and politics and really what the Left is doing from a corporate standpoint. The CEOs and executives of these companies are becoming more and more vocal and more, and more active in areas that have nothing to do with their companies. Their companies are—they’re getting involved in areas like immigration that have nothing to do with their company. Or they may get involved with the Planned Parenthood discussion and other things that are not part of what the product or whatever it is they’re selling, but they’re doing it because they have an agenda.
Buskirk: How’s the—I’m interested—how is it going? Are people—investors, I’m assuming this is available to individual investors? Your ETF. Are they responding, “Yeah, this is somewhere where I’d like to put my money”?
Lambert: It’s been a great response. To answer your question, people can buy this anywhere they have a burgess account. Whether it’s Charles Schwab or TD Ameritrade, anywhere they have an account, they can purchase this. It trades just like a stock. You can buy it and sell it at anytime during the day and again it trades just like a stock. The answer is, there’s been a great reception and my job now is to simply get the word out to people out there that, “Hey, this is available,” because it’s never been available before. No one’s done this before.
Buskirk: Well, I’m interested. What are some of the companies that are conservative or Republican friendly?
Lambert: There’s some great ones. Caterpillar is an example.
Buskirk: Mm-hmm (affirmative)
Lambert: The defense companies. A lot of the defense companies like Boeing, Lockheed Martin, there’s those companies that are highly supportive of the Republican candidates. Some surprises out there—you’ve got companies in the financial space. Goldman Sachs, actually, is a big net contributor to Republicans.
Buskirk: Is that right?
Lambert: Yeah, they switched in about 2010. Prior to 2010, they were heavily Democrat. My guess is, with Obama in office, they made the decision they needed to go in a different direction.
You see that and the data’s very interesting because all of this is publicly available data. You can look out and see what are companies, what are their PACs doing? I mean it’s not necessarily easy to get. It took a lot of work for me to get all this data, but it is out there and you can see what they’re doing. It is interesting to see the changes over time on companies from one party to another. A lot of the times—
Buskirk: Hal, you still there?
Lambert: I sure am.
Buskirk: Sorry, you just went silent there for a second.
Lambert: Okay, I’m not sure where I got cut off but I was just saying the data’s actually very public so it is surprising to see these companies switch after a period of time from one to another. Goldman Sachs is one, like I said, that switched over in about 2010.
Buskirk: Is this something where you see with this business as it grows—is this something where you can sort of make other, hey, in other words there’s a PR element to the battle, too, and say, “look, we’ve got x number of dollars in this ETF” because people, Americans, investors, customers—they’re putting their money where their mouth is. Basically, they’re trying to put some pressure on some of these companies. There’s lots of pressure being put on them from the Left, maybe just to have a counterbalance from the Right?
Lambert: Yeah, absolutely. I think that’s exactly right. The more people start investing with their political view on the right, the bigger difference it can make. I think it can make big difference. Because, you know, these companies, they need to hear from us as well. All they’re hearing right now is the angry Left and a lot of them are nervous about political pressure or political media, negative media stories. That’s the side that’s very active and very vocal and we have a side as well.
Buskirk: Yeah, I mean look—the Left’s very organized about this. On the Right, we’re simple people, right? We want to have the debates. We want to have ideas expressed and then let the best ideas win. The Left views it differently, which is they believe in the politics of power, right? They want to shut down the debate and that kind of led to the piece that you wrote for us at American Greatness. The headline is “Tech Giants are the Biggest Threat Facing Trump Supporters.” You talk about companies like Google and Facebook and Twitter. Tell us a little bit about the thesis and kind of what’s going on on that front.
Lambert: Yeah, I truly believe this is the biggest threat to conservative thought currently out there. I think it’s going to be a big, big problem of the next few years, unless something’s done about it. Because what you have are the largest companies in the world, and I write about this in the piece. If you take the market cap, meaning the value, of these companies—these four or five companies—you get a value of over $2.6 trillion, which means they are larger than the economy of the United Kingdom. We’re talking about very, very powerful groups. They testified before Congress and what they’re actively doing right now and what they’ve moved towards—I think they’re very upset by the fact that Donald Trump won, and they’re all run by heavily, heavily Democratic contributors and they are vocal Democratic supporters. These companies are pretty far Left and they have the ability, through their systems, to now censor conservative speech and they can do it with Twitter—Twitter’s a perfect example. I mean we saw, even after I wrote this piece, a rogue employee was able to turn off President Trump’s Twitter account. That’s pretty shocking.
Buskirk: That’s nuts.
Lambert: Pretty amazing that that could happen.
Buskirk: It’s nuts. I was talking with a friend today who, he runs a conservative news-oriented website—I wouldn’t say 100 percent but maybe 75 percent original news reporting, commentary. Pretty good sized readership. Not enormous, but I mean in the seven-figure readership and they have been in Facebook’s crosshairs for the past two months. Facebook’s deleting their posts, they’re shutting down their account, they are restricting access to the administrators. I mean, they just have a bullseye on them and they’re not the only ones.
Lambert: That’s right. In fact, Facebook admitted that they were—basically, the trending news on Facebook is not really the trending news. It’s an op-ed.
Buskirk: It’s an op-ed. They select it. They hand curate it in order to develop a narrative to pick what people see.
Lambert: Exactly. [crosstalk 00:10:26]
Buskirk: Hal, we’ve gotta go to a break. Can you stick with me for another segment?
Lambert: Sure, no problem.
Buskirk: Very good. Hal Lambert, my guest. We’ll be right back with more of the Seth and Chris Show.
I am Chris Buskirk. He is Seth Leibsohn. Welcome back to the Seth and Chris Show. We are joined by Hal Lambert. He is the founder of Point Bridge Capital and is also the creator of the MAGA Index. It is an Exchange Traded Fund, an ETF, that has as it’s component parts Republican or Republican leaning, conservative-friendly Fortune 500 companies. Is that a fair characterization Hal?
Lambert: Yes, it’s based exactly on their political contributions so it is Republican-supporting companies.
Buskirk: And people can—I love this—people can just go to their E-trade account and buy it or trade it as they would anything else.
Lambert: Exactly—just like a stock and they can trade it in their own accounts wherever they are.
Buskirk: OK, I’m obsessing on this a little bit. Did this take a long time to get . . . I don’t know the process you have to go through. I’m sure there’s a lot of regulatory hoops you jump through. Did it take a long time to get this ready for the public?
Lambert: It was massive regulatory stuff. It took about six months and it’s SEC registered, so I had to file with the SEC and obviously they have something listed on an exchange. There’s a lot of regulatory around that. It’s a pretty highly regulated area.
Buskirk: If people are hearing this and they’re interested in this and thinking, “Oh, that might be good for my E-trade account or my 401K or whatever” where do they go? Where can they go find out more information?
Lambert: They can go to investpolitically.com. Investpolitically.com will have information.
Lambert: Pointbridgecapital.com, also. Those are the two different websites I have. Investpolitically is specific for the ETF. Pointbridgecapital.com is for my firm. Investpolitically is the place to go for the ETF information.
Buskirk: Alright, good. I wanted to go back to this issue with these tech giants. We know these things. We talk about it all the time—Facebook and Google and Twitter, even Amazon. These are left-wing companies, right? They’re not in the MAGA Index. They’re not in your ETF, not hardly. In what ways have you—so, what are some of the most egregious examples that you have seen of these companies really targeting conservatives trying to suppress their political, our political, speech?
Lambert: Well, just to highlight a little bit—Google, just so you know, is the number-one contributor to the Democrat party in the S&P 500. When we say they are highly Democrat, they are the number-one contributor.
Buskirk: Is it true to say that they also have the largest lobbying budget of any company?
Lambert: That’s a good question. It’s very large. I don’t know if I could say it’s the largest.
Buskirk: I think I’ve read that someplace, but it’s a big, big number. I mean they’re a major lobbying player, too.
Lambert: They’re major lobbying player. And here’s something scary that everybody should know about Google: Google just partnered, and when I say partnered they’re giving money and they’re providing staff, to a group called the Poynter Institute. Now the Poynter Institute is a group that is funded by George Soros.
Buskirk: Mm-hmm (affirmative)
Lambert: What’s the Pointer Institute and Google going to do together? Well guess what—
Buskirk: Nothing good.
Lambert: They’re going to be the fact checkers. So they’re going to fact check what they deem to be true or not true, and then it will or it won’t appear in the Google search engine. That’s a little scary when you have the Left effectively fact-checking what they deem to be true and whether or not it will appear in the search function. This is a real problem that we’re going to be facing, and they’re allowed to do this. It’s not illegal, but it’s really censorship.
I write about this in the piece. In the ’90s, congress passed a special bill for the tech industry, and it’s really for what they’re calling “Computer Service Companies.” So what they’re saying is that if you’re basically and internet company, you have the ability to censor speech on your website and also on your platform, basically. But they’re also shielded—this is the special deal—they’re shielded from liability for any criminal activity that goes on on their platforms or using their software. That’s a special right that they were given in the ’90s, and then they were also given this ability to censor what they view as “objectionable material.” It’s out there and that’s really what’s happening now. These companies are now able to go in and censor speech, and I think they’re going to be very active in doing it.
Buskirk: There’s a logic to what was done in the ’90s, right? This was an emerging issue in the late ’90s and the early 2000s and internet service providers didn’t want to be held liable because somebody was paying them $9.95 a month. I get that and that makes sense. Things have changed. Basically what you have now is you have this oligopoly. These companies—Facebook, Google, Amazon, Twitter—they have these special rights that were given to them 20-odd years ago or 20 years ago that basically have made them into utilities. That’s my evolving view on this. They have the protections that a utility has, but they don’t have any of the requirements on them that a utility has.
Lambert: Right. They do have special protections and these protections were given before many of these companies even existed as we know.
Lambert: They didn’t even exist at the time. But they’re there and it was, as you said, it was in the ’90s to try to spur growth in the internet. Well now these companies, as I just said earlier in the segment, combined are larger than the GDP of the United Kingdom.
Lambert: So these companies are very, very big and they’re very far left and what’s a little scary is you’ve got—you know they came in and presented before Congress, and Congress is upset with them over ads that were bought during the election, supposed ads. I don’t know if anyone’s ever seen them, but these ads that were done and they’re saying, “Hey, you guys need to start making sure that whoever’s buying these ads is who they say they are and you need to start censoring stuff,” and it’s almost like they’re asking them to be the police.
Buskirk: Yeah, this is exactly the wrong response.
Buskirk: If people want to buy an ad, who cares? If the Russians want to buy an ad that says Hillary’s a criminal or Donald Trump is whatever, OK. Go ahead. What do I care? My default position has been more political speech is better.
Buskirk: And you certainly don’t want to be empowering these private companies, of any kind, but certainly not of their persuasion to be basically policing what is truth and what is not. That is a suppression of speech.
Lambert: It is and so the way to fix this, in my opinion, is to . . . they have the special protection that they can’t be sued for criminal activity across their networks. OK, well if they are going to censor speech, then they should lose that protection. That’s my view and that will cause them to not censor speech.
Buskirk: Are you getting any attention on the Hill? I mean I don’t know if you’re working on this. Is there anybody on the Hill that’s thinking about legislation to move in that direction?
Lambert: Well, I do know this. I know there’s attention on the Hill for this issue in general.
Lambert: I know that people—that there are congressmen that know about this. Marsha Blackburn—we didn’t even mention this—Marsha Blackburn is a congresswomen from Missouri who announced to run for Senate in Missouri. Her announcement was put out on Twitter, they took it down because it was a pro-life announcement and she head the committee for internet commerce in the House.
Lambert: It’s crazy what’s going on. Yes, they’re aware of it. The question is what direction do people go on.
Buskirk: Yeah, it’s interesting. Marsha Blackburn—Tennessee, by the way, I think.
Lambert: Tennessee, I’m sorry.
Buskirk: Running for Corker’s seat, but she’s fantastic. She’s been very good on these things. That may be one of those actions where they took that down. I think she’s going to win that seat, they may live to regret the way they handled Marsha Blackburn because something tells me she’s not going to forget about it.
Lambert: Right, right.
Buskirk: Hal, we’re gonna have to leave it there. We gotta break coming up. Would you come back again? This is an issue that we’ve gotta keep covering.
Lambert: I will and I appreciate you covering it. I think it’s important for conservatives and I think it’s not gonna go away.
Buskirk: Hal Lambert, thank you very much. You can find out more about his MAGA ETF @magaindex, that’s on Twitter, or pointbridgecapital.com. Thanks Hal, talk to you soon.
Lambert: Thank you, thank you. Bye-bye.