#Google is a Washington powerhouse that shapes federal law, rewards congressional allies and boasts a new 54,000-square-foot office, just down the road from the U.S. Capitol. But the Internet giant quietly has planted its political roots in places far beyond the #Beltway — in state legislatures and city councils that have become hotbeds for tech policy fights.
The company has hired an army of #lobbyists from coast to coast as it seeks to protect its self-driving cars, computer-mounted glasses and other emerging technologies from new rules and restrictions, according to an analysis of state records. It’s an aggressive offensive meant to counter local regulators, who increasingly cast a skeptical eye on #Silicon_Valley and its ambitious visions for the future.
Google this year has retained a quartet of lobbyists in Maryland to remove any roadblocks facing its fleet of driver-free Priuses. It’s tapped consultants in California, Utah, Georgia and other states where the company has tried to deploy its ultrafast Fiber Internet. In Illinois and beyond, Google has worked to battle back #legislation that might affect Glass, its high-tech spectacles. And the tech giant has cozied up to leaders in New York state and New York City, while camping out in Massachusetts to seek changes in state tax laws.
“Google is an example of a company that has, in very short order, come to value political engagement in a very expensive way,” said Lee Drutman, a senior fellow at the Sunlight Foundation. “One of the things you see when a company becomes engaged in politics: They realize it’s not just federal politics, but state and local politics” that matter.
In a sense, Google agrees. “Technology issues are a big part of current policy discussions, not just at the federal level but in the states as well,” a spokeswoman acknowledged. “It’s important to be part of those discussions and to help policymakers understand new technologies, Google’s #business, and the work we do to encourage economic opportunity.”
In #Washington, Google is already a political behemoth. The tech giant spent more than $3.8 million to lobby federal lawmakers on privacy, patent and immigration reforms just in the first quarter of 2014, according to federal records. So far in the 2014 election cycle, the company also has donated $1.1 million to federal candidates. And it just took residence this month in a new Massachusetts Avenue office that’s within walking distance of #Capitol_Hill, symbolizing the company’s meteoric political growth since federal antitrust regulators investigated it in 2012.
But Google’s political tentacles reach far beyond the nation’s capital.