Google executive chairman Eric Schmidt is slated to testify before the Senate tomorrow as the search engine giant moves to fend off potential antitrust action. A safe bet: the hearing room will be packed, if only by members of the Team Google lobbying battalion.
This blogger is a big fan of PA, government relations, advocacy, corporate free speech or whatever one wants to call it. There comes a time however when enough is enough. Google has turned into the gravy train of K Street, opening itself to do-gooder criticism of gaming the system.
According to federal records, Google has a team of 24 lobbying firms. Since February, Google added Crowell Strategies, R.B. Murphy Assocs., The Lugar Group, Holland & Knight, The Madison Group, Crossroads Strategies, Gephardt Group Government Affairs, The Normandy Group, The Ingram Group, The Raben Group, Prime Policy Group, Bingham McCuthen Ltd., Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough, Akin Gump, Chesapeake Group, Brown Winick Graves Gross Baskerville, Wiltshire & Grannis and Capitol Legislative Strategies to its lobbying line-up.
Those newcomers joined the already substantial team of Dutko Worldwide, Van Ness Feldman, Liberty Partners, Podesta Group, McBee Strategic Consulting and Franklin Square.
Each firm undoubtedly has a special expertise sought by Google or solid personal relationships to exploit. For instance, Prime Policy is the home of Republican mover & shaker Charlie Black, while Gephardt Group features former Democratic presidential candidate and Majority Leader Dick Gephardt. Twenty-four firms though is plain overkill.
Which firm will get the ear of Schmidt? What firms will feel short-changed? How will Google, the once “do no evil” company, control the lobbying Frankenstein that it has created? It may turn out to be a matter of herding cats.