Davis acknowledged in a statement to POLITICO that Google’s outside lawyers were among “many law firms, lobbying firms, corporations and other entities” with whom he spoke after leaving the Senate Judiciary Committee, where he had been a senior adviser on appointments to President Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) until 2019. But Davis added, “It didn’t go anywhere. And that was before we knew how bad Google really was.
“Thank goodness I haven’t worked with Google,” he said. “I dodged a bullet.”
Davis also publicly acknowledged the meeting in a tweet on Thursday, shortly before the publication of this story.
Google spokesman José Castañeda declined to comment. Ventry, who was a press advisor for the Judicial Commission until 2018, also declined to comment.
Davis and Ventry offered to act as Google’s GOP communicators in a meeting with the firm’s outside lawyers in May 2019, offering to help mend its relationship with the Tories, according to the three people, who requested anonymity to discuss private conversations.
At the time, Google was under increasing GOP fire, as then-President Donald Trump hammered big tech companies for allegedly censoring Tories and Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) was using his new perch in the upper chamber to deliver bills that would suppress the conduct of the research society. The Justice Department was also preparing the ground for a major antitrust investigation into Google, a fact that would become publicly known at the end of the month.
The two, who were at the start of building a PR store after leaving the Senate Judiciary Committee, told Google outside attorneys Susan Creighton and Josh Soven that they could help with relations with the Senate. press and relationship building within the GOP. The meeting was hosted by former Federal Trade Commission member Josh Wright, who was working with Creighton and Soven at the Wilson Sonsini law firm at the time.
After the meeting, Davis sent Creighton a follow-up email leaving open the possibility of next steps. In the end, Google did not retain their services.
Instead, about six months later, Davis launched the Internet Accountability Project, which has been one of the strongest supporters of the GOP’s action against big tech companies – and is funded in part by Oracle, one of Google’s main rivals. The project’s efforts include supporting a set of House Judiciary Committee antitrust bills co-sponsored by Buck, who is now Ventry’s boss.
Word of Davis’ past interaction with Google lawyers has already circulated among critics of his new operation. The office of Ohio Representative Jim Jordan, the top Republican on the House Judiciary Committee, took up the episode last week after Davis began circulating a white paper attacking Jordan’s efforts to blunt Buck’s anti-tech bills.
“Nobody takes Twitter troll Mike Davis seriously,” Jordan spokesman Russell Dye said in a statement last week, and again on Thursday. He added that Davis “tried to get funding from Google before launching Oracle.”
Davis, in turn, accused Jordan of acting like Google’s “water boy” as he tackles numerous tech antitrust bills.
In his statement to POLITICO, Davis said that after meeting Creighton and Soven, a friend spent months educating him “about the poor quality of Google and the rest of Big Tech for conservatives and small businesses.” Six months later, this friend convinced me to start the IAP. (Davis declined to name the friend.)
“I pay myself less than what I earned in the Senate,” he added.
Ties to big tech companies are more toxic than ever in Washington as regulatory threats to the industry escalate and politicians on both sides expose a slew of suspected Silicon Valley bad behavior – including alleged censorship Conservatives, non-payment of taxes, mistreatment of workers and the promotion of vaccine conspiracy theories. But so much tech money is circulating around Washington that it’s getting harder and harder to find serious players who haven’t worked for one of the big companies or their rivals.
The Biden administration has come under serious criticism for selecting people with ties to Facebook, Google, Amazon or Apple, and Biden’s choice to head the Department of Justice’s antitrust division, Jonathan Kanter, has come under scrutiny for his work on behalf of big tech companies. competitors, including Microsoft.