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Google lobbyists distance company from former executive who asked Obama to raise his taxes
Author: admin  Click Times:   Add Time: 2011-09-28

 

The day after a former Google executive asked President Obama to raise his taxes at a town hall meeting in California, representatives from the tech company distanced themselves from the encounter, saying they were making an effort to engage both sides of the political spectrum.
 
"He doesn't work here anymore!" Lee Dunn, who works for Google's federal lobbying team, told a group of conservative bloggers Tuesday at a luncheon at The Heritage Foundation. "It sometimes pains me as a Republican to see ex-Google executives standing up asking for more taxes."
 
While donations from Google's political action committee are divided fairly evenly between the major political parties, the company's employees and executives give heavily to Democrats. Doug Edwards, the former executive who asked for higher tax rates, for instance, has donated $300,000 to Democratic causes over the past decade. Google employees are some of the most generous donors to President Obama's election campaign. Marissa Mayer, a Google vice president, hosted a fundraiser for the president at her home last October.
 
So you can see why Google may have been wading into dangerous waters by addressing a lunch group of hungry conservative bloggers.
 
"Our giving has been basically straight down the middle," said Adam Kovecevich, a Google spokesman on public policy. "I think one of the things we've recognized is that no company can get anything done in Washington without partnerships on both sides of the aisle."
 
In recent months, a federal antitrust probe has put Google's Washington, D.C.-based team on the defensive. Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt last week testified before a Senate Judiciary subcommittee to defend the company from accusations that it is a monopoly.
 
At the Heritage meeting, Google made the case that it was sending its lobbyists to Washington to sustain a free market on the Web, but not everyone in the room was buying it.
 
"In 2008 your CEO campaigned for Barack Obama," said Mike Gonzales, Heritage's vice president of communications. "The guy who got up yesterday and said, 'please tax me!' That was a Google executive! So as a company, you've been identifying with this administration from the beginning. And you come here and you're like a mix of Milton Friedman and Friedrich Hayek."
 
Other bloggers pressed the panelists on the company's decade-long support for net neutrality, which would give the federal government more power to regulate how internet service providers manage their networks.
 
"On net neutrality, Google spent ten years pushing it forward," said Seton Motley, President of Less Government and Editor in Chief of StopNetRegulation.org. "You don't want the government coming in and telling you to manage the network and yet you spent a million dollars on MoveOn.org. ... Do you not get whiplash by rapidly changing positions?"
 
"I fully acknowledge that probably a lot of people in the room do not agree with Google's position on net neutrality," Kovecevich said, adding that Google spent a year working on the issue with Verizon, a company that opposes the policy. "We were criticized by many net neutrality proponents, so I think from our perspective, we've tried to look for a reasonable middle ground proposal, so that's where we are on the issue."
 
While it appears that Google is making an effort to reach out to members of both parties and groups across the ideological spectrum--as their presence at Heritage would suggest--the company may have more work to do before earning back the trust of those on the right. And its lobbyists know it.
 
"Bill Kristol was walking around [the Republican presidential debate] wearing Google glasses," joked Dunn, who worked for Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain before joining Google. "So we're 
 
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