Google executives and lobbyists have met with top Obama administration officials as many as 230 times since President Barack Obama took office in 2009 – including visits as the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) investigated the Internet giant for antitrust violations.
The number of visits average out to about once a week, according to a visitor logs and emails reviewed by The Wall Street Journal.
The visits include those by Larry Page, Google’s co-founder, who met with FTC officials to discuss possibly settling the investigation, and by Chairman Eric Schmidt, who met with Pete Rouse, a top adviser to President Obama at the White House.
Those sessions occurred in late 2012, the Journal reports, though the documents reviewed do not indicate the full nature of those visits. However, the FTC closed its investigation shortly thereafter, when Google said it would voluntarily make changes to its business practices.
In addition, Johanna Shelton, a key Google lobbyist, has met more than 60 times with Obama officials, according to the Journal’s review. The company is based in Mountain View, Calif.
“We think it is important to have a strong voice in the debate and help policy makers understand our business and the work we do to keep the Internet open, to build great products, and to fuel economic growth,” Niki Christoff, a Google spokeswoman, told the Journal.
As for the FTC, a White House spokeswoman said it “is an independent agency and we respect their independent decision-making.
“White House officials meet with business executives on a range of issues on a regular basis,” she told the Journal. “These meetings help keep the White House apprised of outside perspectives on important policy issues.
“Our staff is cognizant that it is inappropriate to discuss issues relating to regulatory enforcement.”
Established in 1914, the Federal Trade Commission is an independent agency of the U.S. government. Its mission includes promoting consumer protection and eliminating and preventing anticompetitive business practices.
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