Google is ramping up its efforts in Washington to influence lawmakers according to a Consumer Watchdog press release
Google (GOOG) started its ‘goodwill mission to Washington’ with the following statement in 2003:
“We established a Washington presence because we felt like it was important to give our users a voice in Washington. Technology can be complicated. We absolutely believe taking the time to help people understand our business is a worthy investment. Technology is only going to become a bigger part of our lives and the economy.”
Google’s lobbyist spending increased 50-fold from $80,000 in 2003 to last year’s $4.03 million, a 42 percent increase from 2008. This year, that increased to $1.3 million in the first quarter alone, a 57% increase from last year’s first quarter and 23% increase over the last quarter’s expenditures.
Google has been facing increasing government interaction on numerous fronts. Google and Apple (AAPL) are being investigated for colluding not to hire each other’s employees. In a related matter, the FTC is looking at Google and Apple sharing board members, which ended last year when Google CEO Eric Schmidt left Apple’s board and Arthur Levinson left Google’s.
Google, Apple and AT&T (T) are all being looked at by the FCC for anti-competitive tactics around Google Voice. AT&T also has a separate complaint to the FCC over Google Voice being disabled in rural areas.
Google is also making a big push to sell different agencies of the US government on some of its Apps services .
Consumer Watchdog had a decidedly negative take on Google’s efforts in Washington. “Google is relatively new to the influence-peddling game, but they’re now one of the highest rollers in Washington,” said John M. Simpson, consumer advocate at Consumer Watchdog. “Despite what Google claimed, it’s not about consumers at all,” said Simpson. “Google is seeking laws that let the company do whatever it wants in its quest for record profits. If that means record sums on influence-peddling, so be it.”