Are Google And The White House Getting Too Cozy?

This story was written by Joseph Tartakoff.
Since the start of the year, two senior Google (NSDQ: GOOG) executives have joined the Obama administrationand CEO Eric Schmidt has been appointed to the president's advisory board on science and technology. Concerned in part over the company's growing influence, two consumer groups are publicly opposing the appointment of a third Google executive to the White House. In a letter to the president dated Wednesday, Consumer Watchdog and the Center for Digital Democracy call for Obama not to move forward with the appointment of Google public policy chief Andrew McLaughlin as the nation's deputy chief technology officer.  "Given ... your commitment to a new standard for ethics in government, it would be a mistake to put Google's top global policy person in a key leadership position with critical technology decisions for the federal government," they write. The two groups note that in his post at Google McLaughlin lobbied on behalf of the company and that Obama has signed an executive order with the intent of limiting the role of former lobbyists in the White House.

The groups emphasize that they are not opposed to McLaughlin's appointment solely because of his ties to Google, noting that "it would be just as inappropriate for a lobbyist from Microsoft (NSDQ: MSFT), Yahoo (NSDQ: YHOO) or any similar technology company to be appointed Deputy Chief Technology Officer." However, the letter mentions two antitrust investigations the Justice Department has launched against Google as well as the already prominent presence of other Google executives in the Obama administration. Worth noting, however, that the Justice Department launched those investigationsin addition to a third one revealed Wednesdaydespite those ties. The Obama administration has not actually announced McLaughlin's appointment. Google, however, has confirmed that he is indeed leaving.

By Joseph Tartakoff