Google reserves $880K for political lobbying. No cost cutting measures here

Thursday, April 30, 2009

googleFrugal Google raised 1Q lobbying tally to $880K

WASHINGTON — Google Inc. has been getting more frugal with its employees and other expenses as the recession crimps its growth, but the Internet search leader isn’t skimping on political lobbying, according to a recent disclosure form. The Mountain View, Calif.-based company spent $880,000 on lobbying during the first quarter, a 42 percent increase from $620,000 at the same time last year. Google spent a total of $2.8 million on lobbying last year.

Although Google has been increasingly flexing its political muscle since it opened its Washington office in 2005, the rising expenditures on lobbying comes at a time when the company has been trying to save money to offset its decelerating revenue growth.

Google’s advertising sales — the main source of its profits — rose just 5 percent in the first quarter, the slowest pace since the company went public in 2004.

Not surprisingly, Google’s first-quarter lobbying efforts included online advertising issues, market regulation and competition. Google also focused on behavioral advertising, an online marketing tactic that tracks people’s Web surfing habits.

Google’s lobbying push also reflected the company’s efforts to build up other services that could make it less dependent on advertising to finance its operations.

Toward that end, Google lobbied on “cloud computing” — the concept of providing an array of computer applications through Internet connections instead of installing them on the hard drives of individual machines in offices and homes. Google has been selling some cloud clouding applications to businesses, government agencies and schools for the past two years.

The company also weighed in on legislation about the creation of personal health records on the Internet, according to the disclosure form filed April 20 with the House clerk’s office. Google launched its own electronic health vault for individuals last year in hopes of deepening people’s reliance on its services.

Other topics addressed in Google’s first-quarter lobbying agenda included: expanding the availability of high-speed Internet services in the United States; proposed legislation to reform patent laws; copyright issues; Internet security and protecting children online; and efforts to develop energy alternatives to oil and coal.

Besides Congress, the company lobbied the Federal Trade Commission, Energy Department, Federal Communications Commission and other agencies in the January-March period.

Among those registered to lobby for Google were Pablo Chavez, former chief counsel to Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., and Harry Wingo, former counsel to the Senate Commerce Committee.

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