In a move that’s either deeply pragmatic or deeply cynical, Silicon Valley’s most openly pro-Democratic company shifted course this fall and gave more than half its political action committee donations to Republicans.
Google Inc. NetPAC gave Republicans $57,500 between July and October, the group’s filing this week with the Federal Election Committee shows. That’s 55% of the $105,000 total contributions; Democrats received $47,500 or 45%.
That’s a sharp contrast to the last filing, when Democrats received 58% ($19,600) and Republicans collected just 42% ($14,000).
Three of the four top recipients this fall from Google’s PAC at $5,000 each were Republicans — GOP leader John Boehner and California congressmen Darrell Issa and Kevin McCarthy. The lone Democrat to get $5,000 was Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
The shift toward Republicans is an obvious response to the changing political climate, with Google’s lobbyists fearing it will be left out in the cold if Republicans seize control of Congress on Nov. 2.
Overall, Google roughly tripled its political giving from the summer, when a report filed in July showed gifts of just $33,600.
Google NetPAC’s contributions also show a highly strategic effort to protect its regulatory interests rather than any fealty to its informal Don’t Be Evil motto. Just like any other big corporation, the company showers money on incumbent legislators who sit on the committees that write the rules for its industry.
For Google, that’s first and foremost the Judiciary committees, which oversee antitrust and intellectual property. That’s why Google this fall has given $1,500 to Texas Republican Lamar Smith, who is slated to become committee chairman in the event of a Republican takeover of the House.
Other top Judiciary Republicans on Google’s gift list this fall at $1,000 each include James Sensenbrenner of Wisconsin, Bob Goodlattte of Virginia, Issa, and Dan Lungren of California. For good measure, Google threw in $3,500 for the GOP leadership’s leading pit bull, Minority Whip Eric Cantor of Virginia.
Google did share the love with Democrats on Judiciary, sending $5,000 to Zoe Lofgren of California, $3,000 to Jerry Nadler of New York, and $2,000 to current chairman John Conyers of Michigan.