California campaign disclosures show that Google, which has had issues from privacy advocates and government regulators, made what appears to be the first political contributions to elected officials in the company’s history.
The $77,800 in contributions includes $25,000 to Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and $3,400, near the maximum contribution allowed, to both the Republican and Democratic leaders of the California Assembly. A search of state records in California and federal reporting by the Center for Responsive Politics shows no prior Google political contributions.
The nonpartisan group Consumer Watchdog said Google’s engagement with political contributions signals a troubling shift in the company’s direction.
"Google’s purpose has clearly grown beyond creating the best search engine to protecting and expanding a highly profitable business model," said Consumer Watchdog president Jamie Court. "It’s hard for a company to maintain its motto ‘Do No Evil’ when the currency it brings to politics is not just information and analysis, but also the root of all evil, cash for politicians."
Records show the contributions were made in late October after Consumer Watchdog had written Google about serious privacy concerns with the company’s products and intervened at the Justice Department to stop Google’s proposed advertising alliance with Yahoo.
Consumer Watchdog created a YouTube video showing how your computer could be having an unnoticed conversation about you with Google’s servers. Read the letter and watch the video at consumerwatchdog.org/google.