A project examining White House visitor logs shows the Obama administration has extended an open door to Google.
Johanna Shelton, Google’s director of public policy — in effect, the company’s top lobbyist — has visited White House officials 128 times since President Barack Obama took office in 2009.
To put that in perspective, senior lobbyists for other companies in the telecommunications and cable industry — including Comcast, Facebook, Amazon, Oracle and Verizon — have visited the White House a combined 124 times in the same span. (That data goes through October 2015.)
The Google Transparency Project, the work of Campaign for Accountability, a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that works to expose corporate influence on government, identified policy pushers for the 50 biggest lobbying spenders and counted how many times they appeared in the White House visitor logs.
Alphabet Inc., the parent company of Google, spent $16.6 million on lobbying in 2015. That was the twelfth most of any company, and the most by a technology firm, just above AT&T’s $16.4 million and Comcast’s $15.7 million.
Anne Weismann, executive director of the Campaign for Accountability, told Watchdog.org those logs don’t reveal the discussion of the meetings, just who attended them.
“You don’t know what the meetings are about, but the fact that someone has that level of access at the White House is revealing,” she said. “It certainly suggests a level of influence.”