The Wall Street Journal has a pretty juicy report that just went out. It’s about Google and the Obama Administration. We know that Google and Obama’s Administration have been pretty tight, but now we’re learning just how tight they are. The Wall Street Journal has obtained visitor logs and emails from the White House, and it shows that high-ranking Google execs and staffers such as Chairman Eric Schmidt have met with White House officials about 230 times over the past 4 years. In simple terms, that means about once a week over the past 4 years. It’s also important to note that these meetings also took place in the final weeks before the FTC settled with Google in 2012. Which backed them away from what could and would have been the biggest antitrust lawsuit since the Justice Department went after Microsoft over 20 years ago.
These documents obtained by the WSJ do not show what was discussed in the late-2012 meetings, unfortunately. However, the FTC continues to insist that they maintain independence as a regulatory agency. White House spokeswoman, Jennifer Friedman spoke with the WSJ and stated that the administration is “cognizant that it is inappropriate to discuss issues relating to regulatory enforcement.” On the other hand, these documents do show that Google has become a lobbying powerhouse in Washington in recent years. That they were able to defeat this antitrust investigation from 2012.
Comcast, by comparison has about the same amount of power in our current government. They were actually the only company to outspend Google on lobbying last year. Google spend about $16.8 million in Washington in 2014. Comcast did only visit Obama and the White House 20 times in the last few years. Much less than the 230 that Google visited. In the past, we’ve seen Google employees move over to White House positions as well with the most recent being VP Megan Smith moving to Washington as Obama’s Chief Technology Officer, last year.
It appears that Google knows they have an antitrust lawsuit coming up, especially with their anti-competition tactics they use, primarily in search. And visiting Washington and lobbying there has helped them a bit. We’ll see what happens when a new administration takes over in a few years.