Google has disclosed that it increased its spending on lobbying in the third quarter ending Sept. 30 to $1.2 million, an 11% increase as compared to the third quarter of 2009.
The deadline for filing disclosure records with the U.S. Senate Office of Public Records was Oct. 20; the search giant appears to have filed slightly late, according to the non-profit advocacy group Consumer Watchdog.
“We’re not sure exactly when Google filed, but the documents were not there when I checked shortly after midnight (ET),” says John M. Simpson, director of Consumer Watchdog’s Inside Google Project. “But they were there when I checked this morning at 9:30.”
For the first nine months of 2010, Google spent $3.92 million, approaching the $4.03 million the search giant spent wooing federal officials in all of 2009, Senate disclosure records show.
“Google has a group of well-connected lobbyists and is willing to spend freely to influence federal lawmakers and regulators,” says Simpson. “They appear to be on track to spend a total of $5 million to peddle influence this year.”
Much of the spending goes to recruitment and salaries for well-connected lobbyists. About a year ago, for instance, Google lured Frannie Wellings away from the staff of North Dakota Sen. Byron Dorgan, where she was a telecom expert and Dorgan’s point person on Net Neutrality.
Dorgan was and is a staunch supporter of Net Neutrality, the notion that all Web sites should be equally available to all persons. At the time of Wellings’ recruitment, so was Google. But last August the search giant significantly changed its position, and joined forces with Verizon calling for new federal laws that would reshape the Internet.
Howls of protest instantly erupted from consumer advocacy groups, as we reported here. Consumer and privacy advocates say Google’s change was driven by the rising popularity of Google Android smartphones, for which Verizon is a primary service provider.
Google and Verizon in this document argue for Congress to permit fees for websites under certain circumstances, exempt smartphone Internet traffic from any laws and impose restrictions on the Federal Communications Commission’s role in regulating high-speed Internet traffic.
Google and Verizon stand to earn billions, and would put themselves in position to dominate the future of the Internet, if they can get Congress to heed their wishes, says Jeffrey Chester, executive director of the Center for Digital Democracy. So there is plenty for Google’s lobbyists to do.