Silicon Valley Watcher - Former FT journalist Tom Foremski reporting from the intersection of technology and media

Antitrust Heat -- Google Spends Millions To Influence Washington

Posted by Tom Foremski - January 31, 2010

As Google faces increased scrutiny by the Department of Justice for possible antitrust violations it has increased its lobbying efforts.

The Center for Responsive Politics (Opensecrets.org) has collected information on how much corporate America spends to influence the US government. In 2009, more than 15,600 companies spent at least $3.2 billion.

In Silicon Valley, Oracle spent the most: $5.1 million, followed by Google with $4 million. However, in Q4 2009, Google outspent Oracle. Since 2005, Google has increased its spend on lobbyists by nearly 16 times, from $260,000 to $4.03 million in 2009.

It's interesting to note that Oracle has had to fight antirust issues too, because of its acquisitions. In that regard, it has done better than Google. In 2008, Google had to abandon a search advertising agreement with Yahoo because the DOJ said it would file suit to block it.

Oracle has managed to overcome many antitrust investigations of its acquisitions.

Silicon Valley spending...

The San Jose Mercury has put together a great graphic on how much, and who, has spent the most in Washington:

Chris O'Brien at the San Jose Mercury News spoke with Alan Davidson, Head of US Public Policy at Google. [O'Brien: Google joins the titans of Silicon Valley lobbying]

Davidson said Google's efforts are benign, aimed at educating politicians and making sure its users' interests are being heard.
"We started this office with the same philosophy as we did the business," he said. "If you start with the user and focus on that, everything else will follow. If what we're doing is good for our users and the Internet community, then it will be good for us in the long term."

The problem is that the company often seems so certain of its mission that it can't believe anyone would question its motives.

It's the American Way for US companies to use their money to influence politicians and each one believes it is doing it for a common good.

Here are the top five industries lobbying Washington in 2009 from data compiled by Opensecrets.org.

Pharmaceuticals/Health Products $1,788,456,774

Insurance $1,328,484,288

Electric Utilities $1,221,825,728

Computers/Internet $1,011,127,902

Business Associations $935,616,339

Oil & Gas $901,093,876

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Please see:

OpenSecrets | Lobbying Boom Continued in 2009 - Capital Eye

Tougher Antitrust Division May Target Google - NYTimes.com


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