Google spent the most it ever has trying to influence Washington: $6 million
The uptick in spending coincides with a radical shift in Washington’s political landscape and sharp divisions among the voting public. During the first months of the new presidency, Silicon Valley executives have clashed with Trump following his controversial decisions to impose a travel ban affecting several Muslim-majority countries and withdraw from the Paris climate accords.
“While these policies have little affect on the nuts and bolts of Silicon Valley’s businesses, they show the political chasm and tightrope that must be walked between this administration the the Valley,” said Vincent Harris, chief executive of Harris Media, who led digital strategy for Rand Paul’s presidential run and managed digital operations for Ted Cruz. “There has been a very public outreach by the administration to the technology industry but policy wise it gets murkier.”
Google’s record-breaking lobbying efforts come as it faces the largest fine the European Union has ever levied against a company for abusing its dominant market position. In June, the European Union’s antitrust chief hit Google with a $2.7 billion fine, saying the company illegally steered users toward its comparison shopping site. If the ruling is not overturned, it could reshape the company’s behavior and direct the evolving boundaries of tech-industry regulation.
Stateside, Google and others in the industry have had to adapt to a new political order, one without the close ties it built with the Obama administration. And in recent months, some in Washington have called for increased scrutiny of tech’s dominant platforms.