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The Appearance of Google-USG Conflicts of Interest Grows


Public evidence concerning the amount of special access Google has to the highest reaches of the U.S. Government creates at least the appearance that the U.S. Government’s business may not be “conducted with impartiality and integrity” as required under Federal ethics rules.

  • According to the U.S. Office of Government Ethics, “the standards of ethical conduct for employees of the Executive Branch… are designed to address not only actual conflicts of interest, but also activities that give rise to the appearance of such conflicts.”
  • The U.S. Executive Order on Ethics and Transparency in the Executive Branch dated January 21, 2009, states:  "2.Revolving Door Ban -- All Appointees Entering Government.  I will not for a period of 2 years from the date of my appointment participate in any particular matter involving specific parties that is directly and substantially related to my former employer or former clients, including regulations and contracts.”

According to a must-read WSJ investigative story entitled “Google Makes Most of Close Ties to the White House,” Google employees have met with senior White House officials about 230 times in the last six years, an average of once a week. That appears to be ten times more than any other company.

Public evidence also shows that seven former employees of, or consultants to, Google, appear to be conveniently and simultaneously  positioned in most every major federal policy or law enforcement area of commercial interest to Google Inc. Consider this public evidence.

  1. Megan Smith has served as U.S. chief technology officer and assistant to the president since September. Smith served as a senior Google executive from 2003-2014.
  2. Alexander Macgillvray has served as deputy U.S. chief technology officer for intellectual property & privacy since September. Macgillvray served as Google’s deputy general counsel for intellectual property from 2003-2009.
  3. Mikey Dickerson has served as deputy U.S. chief information officer and administrator of the U.S. digital service since August. Dickerson served as a Google Senior Engineer from 2006-2013.
  4. Michelle Lee has served as the head of the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office since November of 2012. Lee served as Google’s deputy general counsel and head of patents and patent strategy from 2003-2012.
  5. Renata Hesse has served as deputy assistant attorney general for criminal and civil operations of the antitrust division of the U.S. Department of Justice since May of 2012. Hesse served as an outside counsel to Google during the DOJ’s opposition to the proposed Google-Yahoo ad agreement.
  6. David Gelfand has served as deputy assistant attorney general for litigation of the antitrust division of the U.S. Department of Justice since August of 2012. In that capacity Gelfand also may have served as the DOJ’s antitrust litigation liaison to the European Commission’s Directorate of Competition. Gelfand represented Google in the Federal Trade Commission’s 2010 antitrust review of the Google-Admob transaction.
  7. Joshua Wright has served as one of five U.S. Federal Trade Commission Commissioners since January of 2013. Wright did antitrust-related academic consulting work for Google and formally recused himself from all Google matters before the FTC until January of this year.

In a nutshell, the cumulative public evidence, which first shows Google’s extraordinary special access to the highest reaches of the U.S. Government, and which second shows Google’s extraordinary special benefit to its commercial interests of having former Google employees or consultants ensconced in most official positions of large commercial interest to Google, creates at least the appearance of substantial, and widespread conflicts of interest between Google’s vast commercial interests and the public’s interest “that the Government’s business is conducted with impartiality and integrity.”  


Google Unaccountability Series

Part 0: Google's Poor & Defiant Settlement Record [5-1-12]

Part 1: Why Google Thinks It Is Above the Law [4-17-12]

Part 2: Top Ten Untrue Google Stories [5-8-12]

Part 3: Google's Growing Record of Obstruction of Justice [6-21-12]

Part 4: Why FTC's $22.5m Privacy Fine is Faux Accountability [7-12-12]

Part 5: Google's Culture of Unaccountability: In Their Own Words [8-1-12]

Part 6: Google Mocks the FTC's Ineffectual Privacy & Antitrust Enforcement [8-10-12]

Part 7: An FTC Googleopoly Get Out of Jail Free Card? [8-30-12]

Part 8: Top Lessons to Learn for Google Antitrust Enforcers [9-14-12]

Part 9: Google Mocks EU and FTC in Courting Yahoo Again [9-26-12]

Part 10: FTC-Google Antitrust: The Obvious Case of Consumer Harm [11-25-12]

Part 11: Why FTC Can't Responsibly End Google Search Bias Antitrust Investigation [11-27-12]

Part 12: Oversight Questions for FTC's Handling of Google Antitrust Probe [11-30-12]

Part 13: Courts Not FTC Should Decide on Google Practices (The Hill Op-ed) [12-10-12]

Part 14: Troubling Irregularities Mount in FTC Handling of Google Investigation [12-17-12]

Part 15: Top Ten Unanswered Questions on FTC-Google Outcome [1-3-13]

Part 16: Top Takeaways from FTC's Google Antitrust Decisions [1-7-13]

Part 17: Google’s Global Antitrust Rap Sheet [1-31-13]

Part 18: Google’s Privacy Words vs. its Anti-privacy Deeds [3-8-13]

Part 19: Google’s Privacy Rap Sheet Updated – Fact-checking Google’s Privacy Claims [3-13-13]

Part 20: DOJ & FTC Report Cards [4-12-13]

Part 21: The Evidence Google Bamboozled EU Competition Authorities [4-19-13]

Part 22: EU-Google: Too Powerful to Prosecute? Problems with Enabling Google [5-1-13]

Part 23: Google’s proposed EU Search Bias Remedies: a Satire [5-17-13]

Part 24: Google’s Antitrust Rap Sheet Updated [5-27-13]

Part 25:  Is This the Track Record of a Trustworthy Company? See Google’s Rap Sheet [6-6-13]

Part 26: Top Questions as DOJ-Google Criminal Prosecution Deadline Approaches [7-12-13]

Part 27:  The Evidence Google Violated the DOJ Non-Prosecution Agreement [8-8-13]

Part 28:  Implications of EU Ruling Google Abused its Search Dominance [9-27-13]

Part 29:  Google-YouAd is a Deceptive and Unfair Business Practice [10-24-13]

Part 30:  EU's Google Antitrust Problems Not Going Away [12-16-13]

Part 31:  How the Google-EC Competition Deal Harms Europe [2-10-14]

Part 32: Open Letter to European Commissioners to Reject EC-Google Settlement [2-16-14]

Part 33: Google’s Extensive Cover-up [2-24-14]

Part 34: Open Letter on Google’s Opposition to Distracted Driving Legislation [2-27-14]

Part 35: The Growing EC-Google Settlement Scandal – An Open Letter to EC Officials [3-31-14]

Part 36: Google’s Glass House [4-14-14]

Part 37: Google’s Titan Spy-Drones Mimic Military Spy Planes [4-17-14]

Part 38: Google’s Anti-Competitive Rap Sheet Warrants Prosecution not Leniency [4-30-14]

Part 39: Google Apps for Education Dangers --Letter to School Administrators/Parents [5-17-14]

Part 40: Google’s AdSense Lawsuit Spotlights Google’s Corruption of Unaccountability [5-23-14]

Part 41: Google’s Title II Utility Regulation Risks – An Open Letter to Investors [6-3-14]

Part 42: Six Ways the FTC is AWOL on Google [7-16-14]

Part 43: Fact-checking Google’s Public EC Competition Defense [9-21-14]

Part 44: Top 10 Reasons Why Google is Causing EU More Problems than Microsoft Did [10-1-14]

Part 45:  Google Profiting from Hacked Celebrity Women Photos “How Google Works” [10-6-14]

Part 46:  Fact-checking Google Schmidt’s “Ich bin ein Big-fibber” Berlin Speech [10-14-14]

Part 47:  Google’s Dominance isn’t Peaking its Proliferating [11-4-14]

Part 48: A European Revolution against Google’s Virtual Colonialization? [11-24-14]

Part 49:  Google’s Serial Bad Acts Harm American Interests in Europe [11-28-14]

Part 50:  Evading Sovereign Accountability is “How Google Works” [12-10-14]

Part 51:  What’s Google Really up to in Wireless [1-30-15]

Part 54: Evading Sovereign Accountability is “How Google Works” [12-10-14]

Part 55: Bullying is “How Google Works” – Ask Law Enforcement [12-21-14]

Part 56: Deceptive Branding is “How Google Works” Ask EC Law Enforcement [1-7-15]

Part 57: Breaking Privacy Promises is How Google Works - New Student Privacy Pledge [1-22-15]

Part 58: What’s Google Really Up To in Wireless? [1-30-15]

Part 59: Google’s Title II Privacy Liability Nightmare [2-6-15]

Part 60: Why is Google Obstructing Justice in Mississippi? EC Pay Attention [2-12-15]

Part 61:How America Protects National Champion Google in the EU [3-5-15]

Part 62:  FTC-Googlegate Scandal Repercussions in U.S. & EU [3-20-15]