SANTA MONICA, CA — Google and Facebook pumped record amounts into their lobbying efforts during the second quarter, according to just filed disclosure reports. Google's spending soared to $2.06 million, a 54 percent increase from the same period a year ago. Facebook spent $320,000 — nearly as much as its total lobbying expenses for all of last year.
In addition to the money spent on formal lobbying disclosed in Google's report, much of Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt's time is now devoted to government relations. Consumer Watchdog said his activities should be scrutinized to see if he must register as a lobbyist.
"Schmidt could well have reached the threshold requiring registration as a lobbyist; he is clearly trying to influence policy," said John M. Simpson, Director of the nonprofit, nonpartisan public interest group's Privacy Project. "It certainly should be checked out."
Google's record outlay, up from $1.48 million in the first quarter and $1.34 million in the second quarter of 2010, came as the Federal Trade Commission launched an antitrust investigation of the Internet giant. Earlier this month Google announced it was hiring an additional 12 lobbying firms in response to the probe.
"They are throwing money around like drunken sailors, but reinforcements from Gucci Gulch won't get them off the hook," said Simpson. "The FTC has finally opened a long-needed investigation into how Google unfairly uses its dominance of the Internet to its advantage. They can't buy their way out of that."
Check the Senate's Lobbying Disclosure Act Database here: http://soprweb.senate.gov/index.cfm?event=submitSearchRequest
The second quarter marked the first time that Google outspent archrival Microsoft on lobbying policymakers. Microsoft reported that it spent $1.852 million in the second quarter, slightly above the $1.850 million it reported in the comparable period in 2010. It spent $1.72 million in the first quarter of 2011.
For all of 2010 Google spent $5.2 million peddling influence in Washington compared to Microsoft's $6.9 million. Facebook, which began to ramp up lobbying efforts last year spent $351,390 in 2010.
"Facebook has spent $550,000 this year and looks to be in the game for at least $1 million this year," said Simpson. "They clearly want to be players in Washington's power game."
Although the Internet companies, lobbying expenditures are substantial and increasing, telecommunications companies led in the spending to influence policy. For example, AT&T spent $4.8 million in the second quarter of 2011, down from the $6.8 million in the opening three months of the year.
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Consumer Watchdog is a non-partisan public interest organization with offices in Santa Monica, CA and Washington, D.C. For more information, visit us on the web at: http://www.ConsumerWatchdog.org