Google's tentacles stretch into the EU as well as the US
It's a smaller revolving door but it still spins
Google can provide a lucrative career option for EU policy advisors, with the UK hosting the busiest revolving door, according to new research.
The US-based Campaign for Accountability has identified at least 16 Googlers joining the taxpayer’s payroll, with 64 advisors taking the more lucrative path the other way by joining Google.
Three years ago, the Copyright Minister at the time, Viscount Younger of Leckie, claimed Google had an easier time getting the ear of the Prime Minister than he did. “I am also very aware, I think, that they have got access, for whatever reason, to higher levels than me in No. 10,” he told MPs.
Before entering No.10, Google paid for Cameron, Osborne and Conservative policy chief Steve Hilton to fly around the US, an itinerary which included a visit to Google HQ in California. Hilton’s wife Rachel Whetstone, formerly Cameron’s chief of staff, was, until last year, Google’s public policy chief. She's now at Uber, which isn't a million miles from the Chocolate Factory: Google was Uber's biggest investor until the injection of $3.5bn of Saudi cash into the taxi company last week.
The government was criticised for striking a voluntary tax deal with Google earlier this year, which effectively shut down HMRC's attempts to retrieve back taxes over 11 years. The French tax authorities are pursuing Google for a figure three times higher, and raided its offices last month.
The revolving door is far busier in the US, where Google appointees have played a key role in regulatory agencies including the FTC and FCC, which are constitutionally supposed to be independent arm's-length bodies answerable to Congress. Emails released under Freedom of Information suggested that Google advisors derailed the FCC Commissioner’s attempt to formulate a consensus-based open internet plan and, it was claimed, connived with the White House to create a more radical, Google-friendly version, which reclassified broadband as a “Class II” telephone service.
Heroically, FCC boss Tom Wheeler put his principles and months of hard work to one side, and accepted the proposals designed by the White House’s advisors. Wheeler was a major fundraiser for Obama for both his 2008 and 2012 presidential campaigns. ®