Google Parts With Podesta Lobbying Firm
Ben Brody, Bloomberg ‘News’, Jan 25 2017
After at least 12 years together, Alphabet Inc., the parent of Google, won’t be represented by one of Washington’s most prominent lobbying groups, a firm with long-standing ties to the Democrat party and Hillary Clinton. The Podesta Group, whose chairman Tony Podesta is a major Democrat fundraiser and the brother of Clinton’s former campaign manager John Podesta, is no longer lobbying on behalf of Google, public disclosures show. The change coincided with Google’s bid to hire someone for “conservative outreach,” according to a December job advertisement. Veteran lobbyists say it’s not unusual to see such shifts after an election. Pres Trump’s practice of calling out companies for cost-overruns on government contracts and decisions to move jobs overseas has also changed the stakes for corporate lobbyists. The tech industry in particular has a rift to bridge. Silicon Valley was a hotbed of Clinton support during the election, and more than 140 tech industry executives published an open letter last summer saying Trump “would be a disaster for innovation.” Since the election, tech leaders including Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg, Amazon’s Jeff Bezos and Tesla’s Elon Musk have met with Trump in a bid to ease tensions. Alphabet’s Larry Page and Eric Schmidt also attended the meeting. John Scofield of lobbying firm S-3 said in an e-mail:
Companies have to get over the assumption of a Hillary presidency and pivot to the new world under President Trump. Big companies don’t necessarily move on a dime, and it takes a little effort for their operations to pivot to the new regime.
Some of that shift appears to be well underway. Podesta Group, which employs lobbyists from both major parties, lost seven clients which together paid $460k during the final four months of 2016, of which $80k came from Google, according to quarterly disclosures. Podesta Group didn’t respond to a request for comment. Google spokeswoman Becca Rutkoff declined to comment.