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With Congress holding hearings’ on Google’s pending $3.1 billion acquisition of DoubleClick this week, the search giant’s Washington D.C. lobbying efforts are receiving more scrutiny. As we reported last month, Google’s political contributions are still relatively paltry (about $800,000 last year on outside lobbyists) compared to the likes of AT&T ($20 million on lobbyists) and Microsoft, which handed out $1.8 million to political action committees, versus Google’s $31,000.
But a WSJ piece shines some light on Google’s efforts to go beyond doling out campaign cash. Employing a somewhat subtle approach, Google has been setting up meetings with politicians to demonstrate how its products can assist politicians in winning elections. Above all, Google stresses how candidates and their organizations can use its services for free, a point it places particular emphasis on. The other elements of Google’s lobbying campaign entail:
— advising campaign staffers on how to target political ads towards people who live within a certain radius – i.e., their local district.
— demonstrating how Google’s maps can make a campaign’s site more user-friendly.
— aside from the politicians themselves, Google is promoting free tutorials and technical assistance to government officials, nonprofits and trade associations. Google is also developing on version of its online payment system Checkout that will be tailored for fundraising by campaigns and nonprofits.