A deal was in the works between Parler, the free speech alternative to Twitter, and former President Donald Trump’s business for him to primarily use the social media platform and obtain part ownership of the company in exchange.
The deal, which was never finalized, was reported by Buzzfeed News on Friday.
The report said that Brad Parscale sought the deal and presented it to Trump during his time as the campaign manager for the president’s re-election bid. Parcale later left the campaign in Sept. 2020.
According to sources that spoke with Buzzfeed, Trump campaign officials met with Parler CEO John Matze and shareholders Dan Bongino and Jeffrey Wernick at Mar-a-Lago in June to discuss the potential deal.
“The president was never part of the discussions,” Parscale told BuzzFeed.
The deal fell through when a White House lawyer said it would violate ethics rules. The deal would have made Parler the president’s primary social media outlet and he would have to post his statements to their platform four hours before posting them anywhere else. He would receive a 40% stake in the company as part of the proposal that Buzzfeed reviewed.
“The discussions were never that substantive,” said Parscale. “And this was just one of many things the campaign was looking into to deal with the cancel culture of Silicon Valley.”
Legal experts told Buzzfeed that a deal of the nature they were considering would have almost certainly run afoul of ethics laws and spark a criminal inquiry.
Trump would be banned later from Twitter and other social media platforms for spreading mistruths about the election. Many expected him to end up on Parler, but that application was also deplatformed from the internet over concerns about its moderation policies.
On Thursday, Matze confirmed that he had been fired as CEO of Parler by the company’s board of directors.