Updates to this story
Ever wondered what reach Google has at the highest level and elsewhere? How much power is too much power? Here's a guide for your reference.
Some background. Google's DC office contains 30 employees, nine of whom are registered lobbyists. In addition to this, Google has hired six to seven lobbying firms. Four management-level Google employees have accepted positions within the Obama Administration, and Eric Schmidt, CEO, and John Doerr, Board Member, served as Obama appointees on a key advisory board.
Google employees who have accepted positions with the Obama Administration
- Sumit Agarwal, who was previously a mobile product manager at Google, is the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Outreach and Social Media.
- Andrew McLaughlin, previously the director of public policy and government affairs, is now the Deputy Chief Technology Officer for the Administration, advising on the effects of science and technology on domestic and international affairs.
- Sonal Shah, previously manager of global development at Google.org, is now the Director of the Office of Social Innovation.
- Katie Stanton, who was previously the principal of new business development for Google, is now the Director of Citizen Participation for the Administration.
- Google's CEO Eric Schmidt was appointed to serve on the President's Council of Advisers on Science and Technology.
- John Doerr, a Google board member, serves on the President's Economic Recovery Advisory Board.
- In addition to this, Jared Cohen, a former member of the Secretary of State's Policy Planning Staff, announced he was leaving the department to become director of Google Ideas.
Google Fundraising for Obama and Democrats
- In the 2010 cycle, Google employees made $429,371 in political donations to Democrats (Democratic candidates, PACs, The DSCC and DCCC, and the like) while only $77,300 to Republicans. So overall, 84 percent of Google political donations went to Democrats.
- In the 2008 cycle, Google employees made $1,731,231 in contributions to Democrats and $185,725 to Republicans; over 90 percent of employee giving went to Democrats.
- In the 2006 cycle, Google employees made $316,493 in contributions to Democrats and $8,350 to Republicans; Democrats received over 97 percent of employee contributions.
- In October, Google's Marissa Mayer hosted a $30,000-a-head fundraiser on behalf of Democrats at her Palo Alto home. Obama attended and spoke at the dinner. Google's Eric Schmidt hosted a fundraiser in June for Democratic Senator Mark Warner. Attendees paid a minimum of $1,000.
- Earlier this year it was announced that Google would be a sole-source recipient for a National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency contract. The contract was awarded without being put out to bid to other companies; even though Microsoft noted that its Bing Map Server could do the same job, it was not given a chance to bid.
- Andrew McLaughlin, a former Google employee who is now the Deputy Chief Technology Officer for the Administration, was formally reprimanded for sending emails to Google lobbyists from a private Gmail address. The matter was only discovered because of a brief Google Buzz breach that exposed all of McLaughlin's email contacts.
- In addition to this, Big Government published a story claiming that McLaughlin was caught heavily advocating for a company called Clearwire during a conference call for Haiti earthquake relief efforts. Google is "one of the largest investors in Clearwire with a $500 million stake in the firm."
- Google has also sued the US Government over claims that it had been excluded out of a different contract. It filed the lawsuit after Microsoft was awarded a contract to upgrade the Department of the Interior's email system.
- Late last month, the FTC announced that it would end its investigation into Google's collection of private information from its Street View Cars, saying it would not press any formal charges. Google's law firm representing them is Perkins Coie. This same law firm represented Obama when he ran for president. In addition to this, Obama's current White House counsel is Bob Bauer – former partner at Perkins Coie.
- The FTC decision was widely unprecedented when compared to other recent charges it lodged against companies for similar infractions, and in some cases it charged companies that had had far less invasive security breaches than Google. TechEye did a piece on this here.
- The FTC also gave the green light for Google's purchase of Admob, clearing all anti-trust hurdles and giving Google a near-dominant position in mobile ads.