Google is being continuously pushed by its investors to reveal more about its lobbying efforts. Walden Asset Management, a company that owns Google shares, have put forward a lobbying disclosure proposal, a vote on which is going to be cast in the company’s annual shareholders meeting scheduled for Wednesday, says a report from CNN.
Proposal unlikely to be approved
Google has argued against the latest proposal from Walden Asset Management to disclose more regarding its lobbying expenses. The company claimed that such an effort would be “impractical and burdensome.” It seems highly unlikely that such a demand would be approved anytime soon, as Google’s executives own a majority of the shares in the company. However, it is expected that the proposal would put some amount of public pressure on the search giant.
In essence, the continuing debate on lobbying focuses on the company’s relationship with U.S. Chamber of Commerce. According to Tim Smith of Walden Asset, the search giant’s claim of ‘protecting the environment’ conflicts with the fact that it is still funding the Chamber, which has spent more than $1 billion for campaigns against the Environmental Protection Agency and to hinder efforts aimed at preventing the climate change. Other companies such as Apple and Nike publicly voiced their opinion against the Chamber’s anti-climate policies. Moreover, Apple also cancelled its membership with the business organization.
Google spends big on lobbying
The search giant does spend some big bucks on politics, having spent more than $60 million on lobbying efforts just in Washington since President Obama took office. Moreover, the company also provides financial support to about 140 dark money trade-groups and non-profit organizations, including the Chamber of Commerce.
Thus, given the facts and Google’s stance to make information widely available, it seems interesting that the company is shying away from being more transparent. This lack of openness threatens the company’s brand integrity, especially when other companies in the tech world, such as Microsoft, have started publishing a breakdown of their money that goes to politics and non-profits.
Last year, a similar proposal was filed at the Google shareholders meeting, in which about 8% of the investors voted ‘yes.’ Though, this seems a small number, it is actually very high considering the small amount of investors that choose to vote. As a result, a few months later, Google left the American Legislative Exchange Council that opposes many of Google’s stances regarding environment, equality, etc. That said, in order for investors to be completely sure about the integrity of the company’s brand, Google needs to be more transparent about its lobbying expenditures and motives.