Alphabet shareholders demanding greater shareholder scrutiny and more transparency over its lobbying network were snubbed by Google executives at its AGM yesterday.
Michael Passoff of Clean Yield Asset Management wanted to know the extent of Google’s use of “dark money non-profits”.
Google donates to many self-styled “citizens’ groups” or NGOs such as the EFF and Public Knowledge, to academics and academic departments, and to think tanks to advance its position on a range of issues ranging from telecoms regulation and intellectual property to business conduct laws. Another shareholder had asked Alphabet chairman Eric Schmidt about this before but, Passoff said, had received no hard information.
Passof noted Google still has “an expansive political footprint, supporting about 140 trade associations and other non-profits across the political spectrum.”
“These activities contribute to the public’s worst suspicion,” said Passof, “that the U.S. political system is rigged in favor of the large donors which is the key factor in the political instability we have experienced in the U.S.”