Trump's Truth Social soars to best month ever, as lawmakers question SEC behavior in merger review
"The SEC just has to get answers to people," powerful House committee chairman says.
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As former President Donald Trump's social media platform soared to its best month ever, a growing number of Republicans in Congress are expressing concern that the Biden Securities and Exchange Commission may be slow-walking a compliance review to thwart a merger that could inject hundreds of millions of dollars into Truth Social from investors.
The SEC has been investigating for more than a year the application from Digital World Acquisition Corp. (DWAC), a special purpose acquisition corporation (SPAC), and its plans to merge with Trump Media and Technology Group, the parent of Truth Social. The long delay has frozen investors who put money into the SPAC hoping to help Trump's platform or to own a piece of the combined company.
Last week, some GOP lawmakers questioned the agency's chairman, former Hillary Clinton campaign chief financial officer Gary Gensler, about why it was taking so long.
And a powerful House committee chairman told Just the News on Friday that lawmakers are concerned the financial regulator is more focused on ideological agendas like environmental, social, governance (ESG) investing than its core responsibilities of protecting and informing investors
"The SEC has just got to get answers to people," House Administration Committee Chairman Bryan Steil (R-Wisc.) told the "Just the News, Not Noise" television show. "What they can't do is put people in a black box and not let them know what's going on.
"This is the broader concern with the Securities and Exchange Commission — that they're focused on a woke political agenda rather than focused on their job. The SEC deserves to be at least able to tell people the answers and let them know where they're at in the process. Incredibly frustrating."
Trump Media and Technology Group CEO Devin Nunes told Just the News last month he believes the SEC was slow-walking the approval for Digital World's application in order to starve Truth Social of investment dollars. "You have three people that are clearly involved in this transaction, or non-transaction, trying to basically kill our ability to have access to the public markets," he said.
Nunes' firm also sent a letter to Congress in late February urging lawmakers to probe the delays, accusing regulators of engaging in "egregious conduct and blatant politicization" to delay the social media platform's potential merger with Digital World.
"America's cherished free speech tradition is under unprecedented attack by Big Tech companies working hand-in-glove with censorious government agencies, powerful media outlets and well-connected political operatives," Scott Glabe, the general counsel at Trump Media & Technology, wrote Congress.
During an oversight hearing late last month, lawmakers laced into Gensler over the delays.
Rep. Dan Meuser (R-Pa.) said he had "grave concerns" about the agency's handling of merger applications like the one involving Truth Social ad Digital World. He sharply questioned whether Gensler had a conflict of interest in reviewing the Trump merger when the SEC chair previously served as a top Hillary Clinton campaign official back in 2016 opposing Trump's election.
"The average processing time for this S4 form, which you know is the last step in a merger like this, in 2022 was 134 days," Meuser noted. "Before your time as chairman, it was under 100 days. Today, the DWAC has waited 337 days for the SEC to begin processing this form. It seems clearly out of the ordinary."
Gensler said the SEC was getting more such acquisition requests, and career people are taking time "to make sure that those filings are accurate and in compliance with the law."
Meuser wasn't satisfied, suggesting the political leanings of the SEC were slowing down the Trump merger. "Why shouldn't my constituents not be concerned this delay isn't caused by such conflicts of interest?" he asked.
Rep. Byron Donalds (R-Fla.) questioned Gensler about whether he approved the Clinton campaign's now-infamous payment for the Steele dossier, the salacious documents that alleged Russia collusion, which Nunes unraveled as a congressman.
"Yes or no?" Donalds pressed when Gensler hesitated to answer.
"It was not something I was aware of," the SEC chairman eventually said.
The frustration among lawmakers comes as Truth Social enjoyed its largest traffic month ever, with several million users now on the platform. TMTG officials told Just the News that April usage surpassed the prior month, and the first quarter of 2023 surpassed the last quarter of 2022 as the platform makes steady growth.
"User activity on the platform continues to grow robustly," Nunes said Sunday. "The Truth Community is finding Truth to be an ideal platform for issues beyond politics, including launching #1 songs. We also have several big innovations lined up for 2023, so we expect user growth and activity to continue the current positive trajectory."
The nascent platform hasn't released an exact number of users, but Trump's own personal account with its more than 5.2 million followers gives a sense of the audience scope.
Even the New York Times was forced recently to acknowledge the platform's growth, reporting in April that "traffic has surged on the site since the indictment was announced, according to estimates from Similarweb, a web traffic monitoring company.”
The 45th president himself crowed about Truth Social's success in a post on the platform this week. "April is the biggest month of Traffic on TRUTH SOCIAL, by far," he said. "It has become one of the most important 'Voices' in the Universe, because it is my Voice, but the Fake News, most of which is dying, or dead, refuses to report on it, or its relevance. WHEN I TRUTH, IT GOES ALL OVER THE PLACE. REMEMBER THAT, AND WATCH!"