WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, The Intercept’s David Dayen published The Android Administration, exploring Google’s influence on government. The story relies on data compiled by Campaign for Accountability (CfA) for a forthcoming project that will document how Google has enjoyed unrivaled access to White House officials and has employed hundreds of “revolving door” officials.
Google’s Remarkably Close Relationship With The Obama White House, In Two Charts
by David Dayen, The Intercept
When President Obama announced his support last week for a Federal Communications Commission plan to open the market for cable set-top boxes — a big win for consumers, but also for Google— the cable and telecommunications giants who used to have a near-stranglehold on tech policy were furious. AT&T chief lobbyist Jim Cicconi lashed out at what he called White House intervention on behalf of the “Google proposal.”
He’s hardly the first to suggest that the Obama administration has become too close to the Silicon Valley juggernaut.
Over the past seven years, Google has created a remarkable partnership with the Obama White House, providing expertise, services, advice, and personnel for vital government projects.
Precisely how much influence this buys Google isn’t always clear. But consider that over in the European Union, Google is now facing two major antitrust charges for abusing its dominance in mobile operating systems and search. By contrast, in the U.S., a strong case to sanction Google was quashed by a presidentially appointed commission.
It’s a relationship that bears watching. “Americans know surprisingly little about what the company wants and gets from our government,” said Anne Weismann, executive director of Campaign for Accountability, a nonprofit watchdog organization. Seeking to change that, Weismann’s group is spearheading a data transparency project about Google’s interactions in Washington.
The Intercept teamed up with Campaign for Accountability to present two revealing data sets from that forthcoming project: one on the number of White House meetings attended by Google representatives, and the second on the revolving door between Google and the government.
CfA Executive Director Anne Weismann said: “Google has long been a strong advocate of transparency in government, business, and even users’ private lives. It has not, however, been transparent about its own dealings with the government. These datasets show how Google has enjoyed unparalleled access to the Obama Administration at a time when the company’s influence on government, public policies, and our lives is incomparable to any corporation in history.”
The data collected by CfA researchers reveals that Google officials have met with White House officials hundreds of times since President Obama took office. Specifically:
Between January 2009 and October 2015, Google staffers gathered at the White House on 427 separate occasions. All told, 182 White House employees and 169 Google’s employees attended the meetings, with participation from almost every domestic policy and national security player in the West Wing.
CfA’s data also shows how hundreds of people have worked for both Google and government, walking through the so-called “revolving door.” Dayen writes:
The “revolving door” data…reveals 55 cases of individuals moving from positions at Google into the federal government, and 197 individuals moving from positions inside the government to jobs at Google.
In the coming days, CfA will launch a project to help the public track Google’s influence on government and public policies. It will assemble comprehensive materials capturing Google’s influence in a single place and make it searchable by any user. The project is the latest initiative from CfA, a non-partisan, non-profit organization that works to expose undue corporate influence on government. To submit information for inclusion, please email us at [email protected]ability.org.