Republicans continue to slam Google for alleged email filter bias despite claimed effort to fix

RNC claims Google sends nearly all of its emails to spam filters near end-of-month fundraising deadlines

Google is aiming to quell concerns about its alleged throttling of GOP political emails, but Republicans are not satisfied with the company's explanations.

The controversy follows a study from North Carolina State University that found Gmail sends a much higher percentage of Republican candidates' emails to spam than Democrat candidates. 

Republicans, led by Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., introduced a bill last month to force Google to exempt political emails from its spam algorithms and implement transparency requirements on email providers. Google responded by proposing a pilot program to the Federal Election Commission that would exempt messages from candidates for federal office from "methods of spam detection." 

Google logo

Google is asking the Federal Election Commission for its opinion on a pilot program that would exempt federal candidates' emails from its spam filters.  (AP Photo/Michel Euler, File / AP Newsroom)


Ryan Wrasse, a spokesman for Thune, called the program "a positive step." However, he added, "more needs to be done. Consumers want a long-term, transparent fix, which is what Sen. Thune's bill would provide."

Meanwhile, Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel is accusing Google of throttling its emails during the final days of each month – a key period of time for fundraising. 

"Every single month – for 7 months in a row – Google has systematically attacked the RNC’s email fundraising during important donation days at the end of the month," McDaniel tweeted last week. "Our emails go from strong inbox delivery (90-100%) down to 0%."

Ronna McDaniel commended Rep. Cawthorn for conceding, stressing the importance of Republicans keeping that North Carolina seat.

RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel says that near the end of each month, Google sends an elevated percentage of its emails to users' spam inboxes.  (Bridget Bennett/Bloomberg via Getty Images / Getty Images)


McDaniel said that the emails "go to our most engaged, opt-in supporters without any increase in user complaints, changes to the content, email frequency or target audiences that could account for the suppression."  

"Google has failed to explain why this is happening," McDaniel further explained. "It’s unacceptable. We have filed a complaint with the FEC over this practice of censoring Republican emails, and it just keeps happening."

Google denies it targets GOP political emails and says that its pilot program could help solve the issues Republicans are complaining about. The program, according to a request to the FEC for an advisory opinion, would prevent algorithms from sending federal political emails to spam, but allow users to voluntarily send future emails from specific senders to their spam inbox.

"We want Gmail to provide a great experience for all of our users, including minimizing unwanted email, but we do not filter emails based on political affiliation," Google spokesperson José Castañeda said in a statement. "We recently asked the FEC to authorize a pilot program that may help improve inboxing rates for political bulk senders and provide more transparency into email deliverability, while still letting users protect their inboxes by unsubscribing or labeling emails as spam. We look forward to exploring new ways to provide the best possible Gmail experience."

Sen. John Thune at a press conference

Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., is leading a bill that would force email providers to exempt political emails from its algorithms, and force them to comply with transparency requirements.  (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin / AP Newsroom)

Thune's bill is co-sponsored by more than 20 other Republican senators, including the entire Senate GOP leadership team and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky. Thune told Fox News Digital last month that a meeting between GOP senators and Google representatives did not go well. 

"We asked people to come in and defend it, and they said, well, you know, that doesn't comport with our data or whatever. But they didn't really offer an alternative," Thune said. 

"What happened was our members got more and more agitated as they talked about this," Thune continued, "because they didn't have a good explanation for why a consumer shouldn't have the option of making a decision about whether or not, you know, a company sends information based on a filtering algorithm to spam."