Aide met twice with company’s antitrust counsel in final weeks of investigation.
“Obviously, lots of interest here at the WH.”
White House internet advisor R. David Edelman
Newly-uncovered emails show the White House was closely tracking the outcome of the Federal Trade Commission’s antitrust probe of Google, with an official contacting Google’s lobbyist shortly before the agency’s decision to settle the case.
Despite assurances by the White House that it didn’t discuss the law-enforcement matter with Google, emails show the White House’s internet advisor, R. David Edelman, contacted a Google lobbyist, Johanna Shelton, in advance of the FTC announcement in January 2013.
Google White House Lobbyist Johanna Shelton
The White House aide requested Google’s talking points and hinted at the high-level engagement on the issue. “I hear big news coming momentarily,” he wrote, adding: “Obviously, lots of interest here at the WH.”
The Obama White House has long maintained it stayed out of the FTC’s Google investigation and respected the agency’s independence. After The Wall Street Journal detailed a flurry of White House meetings with Google executives preceding the settlement, a White House spokesperson said the FTC was “an independent agency and we respect their independent decision making.”
“Our staff is cognizant that it is inappropriate to discuss issues relating to regulatory enforcement,” she added.
However, the new emails show a White House aide discussed the FTC’s decision ahead of its announcement and informed the target of the investigation that the White House was closely monitoring the outcome. They add to a pattern of engagement with Google by White House officials in the lead-up to the settlement, including repeated meetings with Google’s antitrust lawyers in the final stretch of the probe.
The meetings came on the heels of President Obama’s successful re-election campaign in which Google’s chairman Eric Schmidt had played an important role. The White House also met repeatedly with top FTC officials during that period.
Edelman was an important and highly sympathetic conduit between Google and the White House, emails and meeting records show. Data compiled by the Google Transparency Project show that Edelman met with Google officials in the White House on at least 18 different occasions between 2012 and 2015, second only to President Obama and U.S. Chief Technology Officer Todd Park. His emails show he also met repeatedly with Google lobbyists at coffee shops dotted around Washington DC.
Thanks to the Google Transparency Project, we know that Google’s capture of the Antitrust Division of the Justice [sic] Department is not just about Google’s hatred of the music business–we’re all just roadkill on the Information Superhighway.
That’s the important thing to remember–it’s not just us. Google is shamelessly using its lobbying clout in the White House to advance its corporate agenda. The question must be asked–why do they get away with it? What is the quid for the pro quo?
Google executives and nonprofits they funded dominated US delegation. Company maneuvered behind scenes with White House to derail State Department diplomatic effort
Newly-uncovered emails show Google used its deep connections in the Obama White House to mold U.S. policy at a United Nations-sponsored international telecommunications conference with big implications for its bottom line.
Before, during, and after the event, Google officials met and spoke with White House officials to coordinate their strategies for obtaining the company’s policy goals, the emails show. Behind the scenes, the company even pressed its contacts at the White House to quash an effort by the U.S. State Department to forge a compromise deal with other nations in defiance of the company’s wishes.
Google chairman Eric Schmidt — who had played an important role in President Obama’s re-election campaign the previous month — even called the office of Hillary Clinton, then-secretary of state, to lobby her on the issue.
On December 11, 2012, Google’s head of international relations, Ross LaJeunesse, emailed the White House internet advisor, David Edelman to express concern about the State Department and WCIT-12 delegate Ambassador Terry Kramer reaching a deal:
Edelman replied the next afternoon on December 12 2012: “I understand that Eric [Schmidt] personally called Secretary Clinton’s office, which was an impressive show of force.”
An hour later, LaJeunesse responded, “hey, i don’t mess around…”
The emails offer a rare glimpse inside a White House being heavily lobbied by a company with which it has unusually close relations. They offer more evidence of the cozy relationship between Google and the Obama White House, showing officials working in tandem with Google employees to secure Google’s preferred policy outcomes at the 2012 Dubai World Conference on International Telecommunications, or WCIT-12 for short.
Imagine what we would find if anyone could ever get access to Renata Hesse’s government emails?
EU regulators have brought a third antitrust charge against Alphabet Inc’s Google, accusing it of blocking rivals in online search advertising, a move that raises the pressure on the company to modify its practices or face hefty fines.
The European Commission on Thursday also reinforced an existing charge against the world’s most popular Internet search engine that its search results favor Google’s own shopping service over those of rivals.
“Google has come up with many innovative products that have made a difference to our lives. But that doesn’t give Google the right to deny other companies the chance to compete and innovate,” European Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager told a news conference in Brussels.
The Commission said it had sent two charge sheets known as “statements of objections” to Google….
The EU’s pursuit of Google, along with probes into other U.S. multinationals over tax issues and control of personal data, has caused irritation in Washington, with President Barack Obama last year accusing Europe of veering toward protectionism.