Fears are growing that Google is buying increasing influence among U.S. politicians and political groups, following revelations that the internet giant made political donations to 162 congressmen in the latest election cycle.
Documents obtained by the media show that Google enlisted some of the American politicians whose election campaigns it had funded to pressure counterparts in the European Union (EU). Google is currently facing a $6.4 billion antitrust case that is threatening its European operations.
The revelations highlight the tight relationship between Google, Congress and even the White House, where the chief technology officer, Megan Smith, is a former vice president of Google. The company employs a hundred lobbyists whose job it is to buy the company influence from politicians.
According to the Center for Responsive Politics data, Google has already spent more money this election cycle on federal lobbying than any other company since 2012. Reported political donations this cycle have been between $1,000 and $10,000 to 34 senators and 128 members of the House of Representatives. In the Senate this breaks down to $46,500 to Democrats, and $78,500 to Republican. In the House, Google has funded Republicans to the tune of $126,250, and $131,500 has been handed over to Democrats.
Consumer Watchdog president Jamie Court says, “Google’s founders had a motto, ‘Don’t be evil’, but they’re oozing evil these days in the political realm. They’ve gone from neophytes to mobsters in Washington. They’ve become brass knuckle influence peddlers and Obama has been their biggest fan.”
Court says Google's opposition Microsoft had its political influence "clipped" in an antitrust law case, but so far Google has managed to avoid any legal action and has been "more successful at making friends and influencing people on Capitol Hill.”
"If you look back a decade, they have gone from having no presence in DC to being the titan on the block,” Court says. “Now Google is worried that like Standard Oil at the turn of the century it will be busted up. It controls more of the internet than any other US company controls any market except a monopoly, and a vigilant government should be alive to that. But while EU has been highly aggressive, the US looks amateurish by comparison.”
Civil society organization, Public Citizen, warns that Google, which recently located into a Washington office block "as big as the White House", is “amassing greater political power than ever”.
The organization says over the first nine months of 2014, Google lead all corporations in dollars spent on political lobbying, while this year it is set to "invest" $18.2 million which is more than even the notorious spending power of the pharmaceutical industry lobby group PhRMA.