May 29, 2014

Google Discloses Demographics Data, Should Now Disclose Political Spending Information, as Promised at Shareholder Meeting

Statement of Sam Jewler, Communications Officer, Public Citizen’s U.S. Chamber Watch

This week, following up on a promise it made at its May 14 shareholder meeting, Google released data on the diversity of its workforce. We applaud Google for releasing this information, which reveals, as the company itself acknowledges, inadequacies and room for improvement in its corporate practices.

While we support Google’s disclosure in this area, we also hope and expect to see a similar increase in transparency about its political spending and lobbying expenditures, which Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt said at the shareholder meeting would be forthcoming.

Specifically, he said during the Q&A session, in response to a question by Public Citizen on Google’s lobbying and political spending, which is prodigious and opaque compared to tech peers:

“Let me summarize your request: We need to be more transparent. And we’ve heard that from a number of other shareholders. … Let us come back with some ideas. But I think we’ve got a very clear set of messages from a number of shareholders already about this issue.”

A Google shareholder proposal for which Public Citizen organized support called for the company to publish an annual report detailing its policies regarding lobbying, its payments for lobbying, and its membership in and payments to tax-exempt organizations that engage in model legislation and lobbying. Not including company executives and directors, who control 62 percent of the voting shares, 34 percent of shareholders supported the proposal.

We look forward to working with Google to show more leadership by extending its value of access to open information and disclosing more about its political spending practices.