UPDATE (November 11, 2008)
Santa Monica, CA — California campaign disclosures show that Google, Inc [GOOG] – which is under fire from privacy advocates and government regulators – made what appears to be the company’s first-ever political contributions to state politicians in its home state of California.
UPDATE: Google has pointed out that it’s employees contribute to a federally organized Political Action Committee — "Google, Inc. Google NetPAC" — which has donated several hundred thousand dollars to federal candidates, according to documents filed with the Federal Election Commission. Neither Google, nor any affiliated employee PAC, had ever made contributions to California candidates, according to disclosures with the California Secretary of State.
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 shows no prior Google Inc. contributions to elected state officials or candidates.
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. Also Consumer Watchdog created a popular 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 here. Citizens have sent more than 23,000 e-mails and faxes to Google’s Board of Directors, from the Consumer Watchdog action page, calling on the company to improve its privacy standards.
For a detailed list of Google’s recent donations visit the California Secretary of State’s website.
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Consumer Watchdog, formerly known as The Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights, is non-profit and non-partisan consumer advocacy group.