Google’s influence grows in the W.H.

Wed, Jun 3, 2009 at 4:34 pm

    Consumer groups urged the White House on Wednesday to back off its reported pick for deputy chief technology officer because he was listed as a registered lobbyist for Google.

    Consumer Watchdog and the Center for Digital Democracy said Andrew McLaughlin, the head of Google’s global public policy, would break President Barack Obama’s executive order barring lobbyists from serving in policy areas they lobbied in the previous two years.

    McLaughlin was mistakenly listed in Senate records as a lobbyist in 2007 and the company amended the reports in 2008, said Google spokesman Adam Kovacevich, adding that McLaughlin is leaving the company.

    "Andrew’s activity was never sufficient to trigger the lobbying disclosure requirement, and he should have never been registered as a lobbyist in the first place,” Kovacevich said.

    McLaughlin was also an officer in Google’s political action committee, which made $270,000 in donations to federal candidates during the past election cycle, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

    “When you bring in a political operative from one of the most powerful companies in that industry and turn over policymaking to those individuals, they can’t help but have conflicts of interests,” said the Center for Digital Democracy’s Jeff Chester. “You need someone who can look at this in an independent way, who doesn’t view the use of all these very powerful digital tools through solely corporate eyes.”

    The White House declined to comment.

    Since 2004, McLaughlin has led a team to influence policy in Washington and across the world. In the United States, his team has been involved in hot-button issues including Google’s acquisition of the online ad firm DoubleClick and a bid to share advertising with Yahoo.

    Should McLaughlin join the administration, he won’t be the first from Google.

    The White House director of citizen participation, Katie Stanton, and the head of the White House Office of Social Innovation, Sonal Shah, worked for Google. And Eric Schmidt, the company’s chief executive, is a member of the President’s Council of Advisers on Science and Technology.

    “But Google’s growing influence is not the primary reason we seek to have the appointment withdrawn. We do not object to Mr. McLaughlin’s appointment because he is associated with Google per se,” the groups wrote in a letter to the White House.

    “The problem is that he has been a lobbyist for the biggest digital marketing company in the world, and we believe no special interest connected person should assume a position of vital importance to the country’s future.”

    , , , ,

    Leave a Reply

    Celine Handbagsceline purseceline bag priceceline luggageceline taschenceline clutchceline onlinecheap ray ban sunglasses