427 meetings in Obama tenure suggests Google had a extra special relationship with US administration

According to data from the Campaign for Accountability and The Intercept, Google and its affiliates have had at least 427 meetings at the White House during President Obama’s tenure.

“It’s a relationship that bears watching,” Anne Weismann, the head of the Campaign for Accountability told the Intercept.

Numbers crunched by the Campaign for Accountability and the Intercept show that in all 169 Google employees have met with 182 government officials in the White House. It was no surprise that Johanna Shelton, Google’s head of public policy, had the most White House meetings of any Google employee with 128.

The data used spans from the start of Obama’s first term in office in 2009 until October 2015, Google officials met in the White House with Obama administration officials once a week on an average for a total of 427 visits. This includes government meetings with representatives of Google-affiliated companies Tomorrow Ventures and Civis Analytics.

Tomorrow Ventures is the investment vehicle of Eric Schmidt, the executive chairman of Google’s parent company Alphabet, and he is the sole investor in Civis Analytics.

The report highlights the access enjoyed by Google, which has an expansive lobbying operation in Washington and consistently ranks among the highest spenders. In just the first quarter of this year, Google spent $3.8 million to lobby the government.

There were 55 cases of Google officials coming to work for the federal government and 197 cases documented of government employees going to work for Google. Also, close to 250 Google employees or government officials have travelled through the Google/Obama administration revolving door either from Google to the government or the reverse.

During an antitrust probe led by the Federal Trade Commission, Google had responded to similar reports last year from The Wall Street Journal about the company’s visits.

In a post last March, Google wrote, “Of course we’ve had many meetings at the White House over the years.” The company said the meetings were on a range of topics, including self-driving cars, advertising, internet censorship, trade, cybersecurity, civic innovation, help with HealthCare.gov and other issues.

It said Microsoft had made 270 visits in that same time and Comcast made 150.

Friday’s report in the Intercept came a week after Obama announced his support for a Federal Communications Commission plan that would make it easier for pay-TV customers to buy their own set-top boxes – a plan which an AT&T executive blasted as a ‘Google proposal.’

Obama just recently endorsed it. Announcing the initiative, the White House wrote in a blog post, “This will allow for companies to create new, innovative, higher-quality, lower-cost products.”