Eric Schmidt, Google's executive chairman and former CEO, defended the search giant's practices before a Senate antitrust subcommittee Wednesday, saying it puts customers first and denying that it "cooks" search results to give it a leg up on competitors. Schmidt emerged largely unscathed from the sometimes weak questioning, but this was only the beginning of a longer battle; Google faces several investigations into its online practices, including one recently initiated by the Federal Trade Commission.
Though he was in an adversarial position Wednesday, Schmidt has been a generous political donor. In fact, some of the beneficiaries sit on the panel that was grilling him. Schmidt has given the individual maximum of $4,800 ($2,400 for primary election funds and $2,400 for the general election) to Senator Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.). Schumer sits on the antitrust subcommittee but did not question Schmidt on Wednesday. Schmidt has also given $4,800 to Senators Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), and Harry Reid (D-Nev.), and has donated generously to national political organizations of both stripes. In both 2009 and 2010, he gave $20,000 to the National Republican Senatorial Committee, pairing that with $10,000 to the Democratic Congressional Campaign committee in 2010, and another $10,000 to two Republican PACs.
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Schmidt was by far the most generous political contributor among Google's executives in the 2010 election cycle, according to contribution-tracking site OpenSecrets.org. Current CEO Sergey Brin made no political contributions of any kind, according to OpenSecrets, and there was only one listing for company co-founder Larry Page for an unknown amount to President Obama's inaugural committee. Schmidt himself donated $25,000 to that committee, as did Google chief legal officer David Drummond ($25,000), Location and Local Services VP Marissa Mayer ($25,000), YouTube co-founder Chad Hurley ($25,000), and former product manager Laura Debonis ($25,000).
Below is a list of the lawmakers to whom Google employees and its political action committee, NetPAC, donated the most in 2010. The table below breaks down contributions from NetPAC as well as from individuals associated with Google, and lists the top 15 recipients. The top 9 recipients of Google's contributions in 2010 were Democrats, as were 12 of the top 15 overall.
Schmidt has also donated to several other Senators and Representatives, many of them in Google's home state of California. Recipients include Senators Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), Ron Wyden (D-Oregon), John Thune (R-S.D.), and Rob Portman (R-Ohio); and Reps. Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.), Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.), Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), Maurice Hinchey (D-N.Y.), and John Garamendi (D-Calif.).
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