Google Employees Have Enjoyed Revolving Door During Obama Administration

Revolving Women

The Google Transparency Project, the work of Campaign for Accountability, poured over reams of data to find 258 instances of ‘revolving door activity’ between Google or its associated companies and the federal government, national political campaigns and Congress since 2009.

 reports: More than 250 people have moved from Google and related firms to the federal government or vice versa since President Barack Obama took office.

The Google Transparency Project, the work of Campaign for Accountability, poured over reams of data to find 258 instances of “revolving door activity” between Google or its associated companies and the federal government, national political campaigns and Congress since 2009.

Much of that revolving door activity took place at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, where 22 former White House officials went to work for Google and 31 executives from Google and related firms went to work at the White House or were appointed to federal advisory boards by Obama. Those boards include the President’s Council on Science and Technology and the President’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness.

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Regulation watchdogs may be just as keen about the moves between Google and the Federal Communications Commission and Federal Trade Commission. Those government bodies regulate many of the programs that are at the heart of Google’s business, and there have been at least 15 moves between Google and its lobbying firms and those commissions.

The research also shows that 25 officials in national security, intelligence or the Department of Defense joined Google, and three Google executives went to work for the DOD.

Eighteen former State Department officials became Google employees, and five Google staffers became employed at the State Department.

[The complete list can be downloaded via Excel file here]

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Friends in high places

Former Google employees occupy several key slots in the federal government. These include:

  • Megan Smith, vice president new business development at Google 2003-12, vice president of Google 2012-14, chief technology officer at the Office of Science and Technology Policy 2014-present.
  • Alexander Macgillivray, deputy general counsel at Google 2003-09, general counsel at Twitter 2009-13, deputy chief technology officer at OSTP 2014-present.
  • Nicole Wong, vice president and deputy general counsel at Google from 2004-11 and deputy chief technology officer at OSTP 2013-14.
  • Jannine Versi, product marketing manager in Middle East and North Africa for Google 2010-2012, White House National Economic Council 2013-14, chief of staff International Trade Administration at U.S. Department of Commerce 2014-present.
  • Michelle Lee, deputy general counsel at Google 2003-12, under secretary of commerce for intellectual property and director of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office 2012-present.
  • Mikey Dickerson, site reliability manager at Google 2006-13, administrator U.S. Digital Service 2014-present. Dickerson also assisted with election day monitoring and modeling with Obama’s 2012 re-election campaign and helped repair the broken HealthCare.gov website.

At least 18 former Google employees work or have worked for the U.S. Digital Serviceand its General Services Administration sidekick, 18F. USDS operates under the Executive Office of the President, consulting on big federal information technology projects.

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The door revolves

Scott Amey, general counsel for the Project on Government Oversight, a nonpartisan group that exposes abuses of power in government, said it’s hard to know for sure how more than 250 people moving between Google and the federal government since 2009 compares to other corporations, but “it sounds like it’s a very significant number.”

“It’s very hard to get information about the quantity of people who go in and out of government service,” Amey told Watchdog.org.

Google didn’t return an email seeking comment for this story.

Analysts at Google Transparency Project compiled the revolving-door data by using public information that includes lobby SCHMIDT: The Google chief executivdisclosure records, news stories, LinkedIn profiles and reports from Open Secrets. Campaign for Accountability notes the analysis is “an evolving representation of the scale of the revolving-door relationship between Google and government” rather than a comprehensive tally.

In other words, the total could be higher.

SCHMIDT: The Google chief executive

SCHMIDT: The Google executive chairman’s company Civis Analytics was a key ally of Obama during his re-election campaign.

The project’s analysis included affiliates of Google, such as YouTube, as well as key law firms and lobbyists.

It also includes Civis Analytics, whose sole investor is Eric Schmidt, executive chairman of Google parent company Alphabet Inc.

At least 27 people who worked on Obama’s 2012 presidential re-election campaign went to work for Civis Analytics after the election. Google Transparency Project said “those employees are then deployed by the White House to work on President Obama’s top policy priorities.”

Those policies include federal technology acquisition reform, national security matters and health care reform – Civis Analytics employees worked with Google engineers to fix the broken HealthCare.gov website in 2013, Campaign for Accountability reports. Read the rest of this entry »


Carol Felsenthal: Fire Valerie Jarrett

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“She has thrown her entire life into their cause, and she’s made it very clear that she would happily run in front of a speeding truck for them.”

— New York Times reporter Jodi Kantor

Carol Felsenthalcarol writes: Almost since the start of Barack Obama’s presidency, people who have actual, real duties in the West Wing of the White House—the working, executive part of the government, that is—have been urging him to do something about Valerie Jarrett.VJarret

“Very moving. But the fact is, on balance it appears that Jarrett has been more an obstructer than a facilitator over the past six years when it comes to governing, and it’s probably long past time for the president to move her gently into another role.”

— Carol Felsenthal

Push her into the East Wing, where she can hang out with Michelle Obama and the White House social secretary, or give her an ambassadorship—or something—but for Pete’s sake get her out of the way of the hard work of governing that needs to be done.

Now it’s really time to do it.

Obama Super PACS

Let’s stipulate right away that it would be unfair to blame Jarrett, the longtime Obama family friend and confidante, for the walloping that the president and his party suffered at the polls on Tuesday. And Jarrett will no doubt be needed in the weeks ahead to comfort her old pals, Barack and Michelle.

“Jarrett is more than a mere senior staffer to this president, and of course she is not going to be fired outright. Not ever. If her role in this administration reflected reality, Jarrett would be called “First Big Sister” to both Michelle and Barack.”

What happened on Tuesday almost couldn’t be worse for Obama personally—not just the Senate’s going Republican but all those governorships lost, including Illinois Governor Pat Quinn’s defeat in Obama’s adopted home state, even after the president and first lady came to Illinois to campaign for him. The morning after the elections, Democratspower-prestige-book and their top staffers were hopping mad, blaming Obama and, by extension, his staff for the defeat.

[Check out Carol Felsenthal’s book “Power, Privilege and the Post: The Katharine Graham Story” at Amazon]

But let’s also face facts—and expect the president to do so as well. We’re at that point in an already long-toothed presidency when things inside really need to change. In the days before anyone knew how brutally the Democrats would get beaten, politicians and staffers and pundits were urging a shakeup of the White House staff. Read the rest of this entry »