Senator Elizabeth Warren is calling for the head of the Antitrust division within the Justice Department, to recuse himself from investigating Google and Apple.
Why? Because Makan Delrahim, the antitrust head, used to do lobbying for both companies. Which shows a conflict of interest.
Warren has sent letters to Delrahim, as well as Justice Department ethics officials, stating that Google paid him $100,000 in 2007 to lobby for the company, after it acquired DoubleClick. He also lobbied the federal government on patent issues for Apple, during 2006 and 2007.
In the letter, Warren writes that "your past work as a lobbyist for two of the largest and most scrutinized tech companies in the world creates the appearance of a conflict of interest." Warren also noted that Delrahim should "not be supervising investigations into former clients who paid you tens of thousands of dollars to lobby the federal government." Though, in the case of Google, it was hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Warren is wanting a response from Delrahim by June 14. Though it's unclear whether she will get that response by then, or at all.
As mentioned, the Justice Department is investigating Google and Apple, while the FTC is looking into Facebook and Amazon. Warren's concern here isn't in vein. Delrahim worked for both of the companies that he is now about to investigate, and he should do the right thing here. Which would be to recuse himself from the investigation.
Google and Apple are being investigated on antitrust grounds, and it's something that many Democratic Presidential candidates have been calling for, as well as the President. So this is a non-partisan issue. In fact, yesterday during President Trump's "meltdown" on CNBC, he basically said that he was jealous that the European Union fines these companies tens of billions of dollars, yet the US does basically nothing. Letting the EU take all of that money. It's something that Trump will be looking into. So this could be just the beginning for these four companies.
Warren, among other presidential candidates, have been calling for breaking up big tech, since beginning her run for the highest office in the land earlier this year. Her reasoning isn't too out there either. Google, in particular, has its hands in so many areas these days, and it is essentially unregulated. That's a big deal for Google and for its competitors. This has come up again in the past week or so with the many issues that YouTube has run into. YouTube is so big that it has trouble policing the content on its platform, and it is owned by another, even larger corporation.
Hopefully we hear from Delrahim within the next week, on whether he does recuse himself. It would be the right thing to do, as he could be a bit on the bias side of both Google and Apple, after having lobbied for them. Even thought that was more than a decade ago, Delrahim could still rule in favor of one or both of them. And that's not a good thing.