A donation made by Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) to an event that honored FTC chairman Jan Leibowitz had no bearing on the decision made by the regulator in an anti trust case, according to a statement today. It was reported yesterday that Google had used some of its cash reserves to honor the regulator's chairman.
Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) donated $25,000 to a Common Sense Media event that honored the Federal Trade Commission's chairman among others. The FTC has stated that it knew nothing about Google's involvement in the event at the time. The event was held while the company's search prioritization was being investigated by the FTC.
Google was let off on that case with little more than a slap on the wrist, the FTC ruling said the company did not need to make any substantial changes, and agreed on two minor settlements with the company. The settlement from the FTC today says that it did not know about Google's donation at the time of the ruling, and the money had no influence on its ruling.
The FTC investigation was just one of many across the world investigating Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG)'s competitive behavior and privacy concerns. The biggest of these is a European Union anti trust probe. The company is not expected to get off as lightly in Europe as it did in the United States.
A spokesman from the FTC, reported by The Next Web earlier today, said “Chairman Leibowitz had no idea that Google was one of the many corporate contributors to the event until he read the article. But he is grateful and honored to accept the award from Common Sense Media, which does so much for kids and families and privacy.”
It doesn't appear that there was any foul play in the case, and one would hope that Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) would be more savvy than to make an easily traceable donation to a non profit in order to sway the FTC decision. The public relations problem is probably a minor one, and this donation is likely to be forgotten in a week.
That said, both the FTC and Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) would be well served by putting more thought into donations of this type, and the acceptance of awards. Foresight, and due diligence, are admirable qualities. Neither of them is evidenced in this story.