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Are Facebook and Google buying Congress?

Should conservatives be concerned about the dramatic buying power of Facebook and Google/Youtube?

Google’s spending in DC is surging. They will rank among the most powerful lobbies in DC this year. In the first quarter of 2012, they spent over half of what they spent in 2011.

Google spent $9.7 million on lobbying last year. At the top of their list of demands is the right to import more Asian tech workers who will work for a fraction of what the company pays Americans. Former Congresswoman Susan Molinari, a liberal open borders Republican from New York, was hired by Google to oversee their efforts in DC.

Facebook has also entered the lobbying game, and the dollar amounts are surging. Facebook spent over 6 times more money on lobbying in 2011 than it did in 2009. It is expected to more than double its 2011 spending in 2012.

According to Atlantic Wire, Facebook has a close relationship with the Obama administration.


Google’s lobbying spend hit an all-time high again this quarter, with spending coming in at a whopping $5.03 million, tripling its spend from the same period a year ago. Last quarter, Google spent $3.76 million on lawmakers. Microsoft only spent $1.8 million on lobbying for the quarter. In 2011, Google spent $9.7 million on lobbying, and has already surpassed half of that spend in this past quarter alone.

So what issues are Google pushing in D.C.? This past quarter, Google’s lobbying strategy focused on SOPA, patent reform, data privacy and accountability, online advertising regulation, intellectual property and trademark issues, cyber security and online privacy, renewable energy, freedom of expression and censorship, immigration reform and the Startup Visa Act, science, technology and math education, free trade, broadband access, freedom of expression and intellectual property in international trade agreements, “openness and competition in the online services market,” cloud computing, tax reform, internet standards of service and more. In fact, this quarter brought the most variety of issues Google has publicly tackled in Washington D.C. so far.

We know Google had been ramping up lobbying spend with the SOPA issues from earlier this year. Antitrust and consumer privacy are also areas where Google has faced scrutiny from the government. And Google recently named former congresswoman Susan Molinari as head of the search giant’s Washington office, signaling a more experienced presence in the Beltway to navigate through many of these regulatory issues.

Ahead of its IPO in May, Facebook has been doubling down on lobbying efforts. The social network spent $650,000 on lobbying in Q1 2012, up from $230,000 in the same quarter last year. From the fourth quarter 2011 to the first quarter 2012, Facebook increased spending by $200,000. Last year alone, Facebook spent a little over $1 million on lobbying and has already spent nearly half of that in the first quarter.

Policy areas of focus for Facebook this year include global regulation of software companies and restrictions on internet access by foreign governments; internet privacy regulations, do not track issues, discussion of location-based services; education regarding Facebook’s tag suggest features, patent reform, online safety measures, education regarding online advertising, immigration, cyber security, and lobbying for Oregon power and water needs to support high-tech growth and investment in Oregon (Facebook opened a new, energy-efficient data center in Oregon last April).

Facebook has faced regulatory scrutiny around privacy, and we know the network must be lobbying hard for patent reform regulation in light of its recent legal issues with Yahoo. And as the company prepares to enter the public markets, Facebook has been ramping up fundraising through a new political action committee.

Last year, Facebook deepened its ties with D.C., hiring more influential lobbyists, and even partnering with the current administration on policy issues.