White House Reprimands Ex-Googler After Consumer Watchdog FOIA Request

Published on

Group Says Deputy Chief Technology
Officer Andrew McLaughlin Should Resign

SANTA MONICA, CA — The White House Deputy Chief Technology Officer,
Google’s former top global lobbyist, has been reprimanded for ethics
violations that were revealed after a Freedom of Information Act Request
from Consumer Watchdog.

The group said Andrew McLaughlin should resign his position in the
White House Office of Science and Technology Policy for using a private
email account to conduct government business and discussing policy with
former Google associates.

“We opposed the appointment of a lobbyist to this position from the
beginning,”  said John M. Simpson, consumer advocate with the
nonpartisan, nonprofit group. “This episode demonstrates that he should

In a memo to all OSTP staff, “Reminder: Compliance with Federal
Records Act and the President’s Ethics Pledge,” Director John Holdren
describes how “one of our employees fell short” of meeting White House
legal and ethical standards. He said the employee — though he did not
name in him in the memo — “has been reprimanded on these issues and
received additional individual training on his obligations.”

Consumer Watchdog’s request led to the discovery that McLaughlin had
been conducting official business on a personal email account.  One
violation of the ethics policy was an email exchange withy Alan
Davidson, Google’s Director of Public Policy and Government Affairs in
Washington, about comments McLaughlin made regarding Internet
neutrality.  Davidson sent a message with a link to a news article that
said, “Incoming” and added that “we’ve tee’d it up for the OIC gang, so
some of those folks will have your back covered.” OIC refers to the Open
Internet Coalition of which Google is a leading member.  McLaughlin

“I suspect bloomberg and wpost (cecilia’s blog) will do something.
Key point is that mclaughlin didn’t say anything about telcos, so att
reaction is puzzling (protesting too much). And that obama has always
expressed a free speech rationale for net neutrality, so there is
nothing new here.

“WH seems willing to push back hard, which is helpful.”

Read the released emails here. There are three PDF files:

“McLaughlin received a mild slap on the wrist,” said Simpson. “With his
background as Google’s lobbyist he is simply the wrong man for this

Consumer Watchdog did not object to Mr. McLaughlin’s appointment
simply because he was associated with Google. In a joint letter with the
Center for Digital Democracy to President Obama at the time of the
appointment, the groups wrote:  “The problem is that he has been a
lobbyist for the biggest digital marketing company in the world, and we
believe no special-interest connected person should assume a position of
vital importance to the country’s future.  It would be just as
inappropriate for a lobbyist from Microsoft, Yahoo! or any similar
technology company to be appointed Deputy Chief Technology Officer.”

As Google’s Director of Global Public Policy, McLaughlin led a team
of corporate policy advocates working to influence a wide range of
issues in the United States and globally. Simply put, he was responsible
for Google’s worldwide lobbying efforts.  McLaughlin was a registered
lobbyist in 2007 working on Google’s behalf. The statement of
organization for Google’s political action committee, Google Inc.
NetPAC, filed on March 16, 2009, lists him as the committee’s assistant
treasurer and its designated agent.


Consumer Watchdog, formerly the
Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights is a nonprofit, nonpartisan
consumer advocacy organization with offices in Washington, DC and Santa
Monica, Ca.  Consumer Watchdog’s website is
Visit our new Google Privacy and Accountability Project website:

Consumer Watchdog
Consumer Watchdog
Providing an effective voice for American consumers in an era when special interests dominate public discourse, government and politics. Non-partisan.

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