Google’s NetPAC and Lobbying

Google’s Andrew McLaughlin is listed as the “designated agent” and “Assistant Treasurer for its “NetPAC” in a Federal Election Commission filing dated March 16, 2009.  It gave out $270,000 to federal candidates for the 2008 election cycle, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.  It’s a veritable political “who’s who” for those receiving the money, including the leading lawmakers overseeing policies that affect Google’s interest, including privacy and intellectual property. Among the recipients include Reps. Barton, Boucher, [now WH chief of staff] Rahm Emanuel, Markey, Speaker Pelosi, Sens. Dorgan, Durbin, Reid, Rockefeller, Smith, etc.

Money for the PAC came from Google execs such as Sergey Brin, David Drummond, Eric Schmidt, Vint Cerf, Mr. McLaughlin, Hal Varian and others.  It’s worth looking at the Center’s coverage of Google’s contributions.

Clearly, corporations and individuals have a right, within limits, to donate to campaigns.  But to me, Mr. McLaughlin’s role running Google’s PAC–as recently as this Spring–illustrates why such activity should be addressed by the White House’s new “Ethics Commitments” for personnel. This isn’t about Mr. McLaughlin or Google.  But no top political operative should be able to make a quick revolving door trip into a federal job that will be connected to their private sector role.

Author: jeff

Jeff Chester is executive director of the Center for Digital Democracy. A former journalist and filmmaker, Jeff's book on U.S. electronic media politics, entitled "Digital Destiny: New Media and the Future of Democracy" was published by The New Press in January 2007. He is now working on a new book about interactive advertising and the public interest.

Leave a Reply