In DC, Google and Facebook Position Republican Insiders

In DC, Google and Facebook Position Republican Insiders

Summary: As SOPA fades Google and Facebook pick Republican veteran DC insiders and lobbyists for key positions in tech's new political era.

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While SOPA was being stopped by the free and open internet, few noticed that at the exact same time Google appointed a new DC insider to its Washington office: three-term Republican Congresswoman and lobbyist Susan Molinari.

In late February as SOPA protests attained the summit of changing public and political opinion, Molinari replaced Alan Davidson in the search engine giant's Washington office - signifying a new era for Google's relationship with Washington.

In case you're surprised that Google has a DC office, you can join me in peering under this very curious rock.

SOPA gave many the impression that tech had little presence in DC to advocate for a free and open internet - so few people had any idea that Google spent $11.4 million on lobbying in 2011 (more than double its 2010 expenditure of $5.1 million) making it one of the leading corporate lobbying spenders.

In comparison, Facebook spent $1.35 million in 2011.

Susan Molinari's new leadership signifies the beginning of an era certain to be packed with more Google-Inside-the-Beltway FWB ('Friends With Benefits') for a number of significant reasons.

For starters, Molinari brings a whole lot of DC Republican lobbyist and big business special interest know-how to the job. And that can really help Google Inc.

Molinari is an experienced Washington lobbying veteran. She was a Republican member of Congress from 1990-97 and has been a registered lobbyist since 1999, when she established her own lobbying firm. (Between '97 and '99, Molinari attempted a career in TV journalism.)

Her clients have included Freddie Mac, Exelon, SBC Communications, and Verizon Communications - the Sunlight Foundation highlights her nuclear and defense clients here.

Ms. Molinari certainly brings a different experience set than her predecessor Alan Davidson.

Davidson was the associate director at the Center for Democracy and Technology - which, as opposed to the current Republican political trend, advocates for a free and open internet with a strong emphasis on consumer privacy, a la 'Do Not Track', among others.

Davidson originally opened Google’s Washington’s office back in 2005 as a one-man operation.

That's a long way from today, where Google's Molinari heads a staff of 12 full-time lobbyists and manages 30 different Washington lobbying firms that Google has on retainer for various issues.

Interestingly, Ms. Molinari has also given more than $200,000 in campaign contributions over the years, exclusively to Republican candidates (according to the Sunshine Foundation, that’s more than 10 times what Alan Davidson gave mostly to Democrats).

Ms. Molinari made her public debut last week as Google’s VP of public policy at GlobalWIN’s Women’s History Month Forum. Mistique Cano, Google’s manager of global communications and public affairs, helped guide Molinari through her first public event in her new role.

Cano is widely cited in torrent blogs for being Google's spokesperson for explaining and defending Google's modus operandi regarding the blacklisting of so-called "piracy-related terms" from its search.

As an aside, Cano is also a geo-location targeted advertising advocate.

It's important to note that Google isn't the only one with a former Republican DC insider making plays for the corporate team.

This past week Facebook placed Greg Maurer, a former aide to Speaker of the House John Boehner, to head up its House outreach efforts out of the company’s DC office. He officially starts April 2nd.

When it comes to big tech and its legacy of idealism, I think there could be a lot of hope when money, power and skill come together to influence policy.

At the same time, it's nervous-making to see what kind of cocktail the combination of idealistic companies growing up fast, a foundation of "don't be evil" and the corrupt culture of DC lobbying could create.

No matter what, it's clear that the formerly separate roles of tech - social, internet, privacy - and politics are about to be permanently changed.

Topics: Piracy, Google, Security, Social Enterprise

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9 comments
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  • Meet the new boss.

    Same as the old boss.

    sigh.
    Jason Riedy
    • . . . and

      we DO get fooled again.
      tombutler
    • "One step closer... two steps back?"

      You get what you pay for. Obviously Page, Brin and Schmidt can afford heart transplants when they reach Dick cheney's age. Let's hope they can improve the quality of the ads they allow from those damn dating sites; same goes for MSN and Facebook.

      Other than that it is all the better that those two faced, too smart, too corrupt members of congress that embrace the wealth of others as lobbyist are more confused than they could possibly imagine before they "Bear" down on the United States. All for their hopes on the International scene as self made celebrities.
      Zurk_Orkin
  • Is this journalism

    Can we get some unbiased reporting please? You would think only Republicans lobby or were involved with Google and Facebook. Schmidt not only was a huge Obama campaign donor, but sits on a Presidential panel, while Zuckerberg was another huge Obama donor and campaigner. Lobbyists will lobby both sides of the aisle, no matter what party they are affiliated with.
    MichaelWells
    • Additionally...

      I take exception with the author's *unsubstantiated* assertion that Republicans do not advocate for freedom, nor care about consumer privacy! The supposed concern of Dems for social justice and democracy, vs. Republican concern only for the rich few has LONG been a fallacy of the left. Time for the lies and distortions to stop.

      "which, as opposed to the current Republican political trend, advocates for a free and open internet with a strong emphasis on consumer privacy..."
      Techboy_z
      • Exactly what I was thinking...

        and, truth be told, democrats only express concern for "a free and open internet", as a ruse, meaning that, their concerns aren't real, and their only agenda is to pretend to be on the side of the people in order to win their votes, and once the people have been "won over", the democrats' agenda will finally have a chance to get implemented.

        The reality is that, when it comes to our freedoms and rights, including an open and free internet, it's the republicans who are most in favor of it, and the democrats are about installing more government controls over everything that occurs on that internet and on the airwaves. The political party that is most about protecting our freedom of speech and freedom of the press, is the republican party, and if you pay attention close enough, the democrats are constantly trying to limit those rights, including with the ruse that often comes up about "net neutrality", which is an attempt by liberals to control the content and the sources of news and information.

        The author of the piece above is nothing more than an advocate for the liberals in congress, and her conclusions are about as "agendized" as Obama is about Obamacare.
        adornoe
  • You have to wonder about a lobbyist who had clients like...

    "included Freddie Mac". Part of the whole real estate fiasco that went on for years...
    ItsTheBottomLine
    • Still not fixed

      And this fiasco is still not fixed and the housing market is still stinks. Dodd/Frank did nothing to fix anything.
      MichaelWells
  • Protect IP

    Google obviously has an agenda in Washington that is focused on better positioning the company and its business within the power structure. The defeat of SOPA and PIPA was not carried about by a single actor. However if we are going to address the issue of copyright infringement and protect IP in the 21st century, we need to have a conversation that involves all impacted parties and stakeholders; namely, content creators, the tech industry, and consumers. Working through back doors and attempting to push a singular agenda in Washington will only serve to circumvent progress and continue to create conflict. Let's start the conversation and protect IP.
    ICOB