California and Alabama, political polar opposites, are the only two states that have not signed on to an antitrust investigation into Google by the attorneys general in 48 U.S. states, Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia.
The attorneys general for the two states are sitting out the investigation announced Monday, and California is under special scrutiny as the home of Silicon Valley and Google's headquarters. The offices of both attorneys general have declined to elaborate on why they are not taking part.
"Everybody's agreeing there's a problem," said Carl Tobias, a University of Richmond Law Professor who is following the Google probe. "It could help them politically and might do some good. I don't think [the attorneys general] entirely trust the federal regulators or even Congress, given an election year's coming up, to really do anything. ... Google needs to be concerned about that."
California and Alabama are worlds apart politically, but so are some of the states probing Google, Tobias pointed out. California Attorney General Xavier Becerra is a Democrat, while Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall is a Republican. Meanwhile, attorneys general in states as politically as different as Texas and New York where Republican Ken Paxton and Democrat Letitia James are respectively joining together to investigate Google.
"California remains deeply concerned and committed to fighting anti-competitive behavior," a spokesman for the California Attorney General's Office said in an emailed statement. "But to protect the integrity of our work, we can’t comment — to confirm or deny any pending or potential investigation."
The Alabama Attorney General did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Google is a big part of the California economy, Tobias said. And Becerra has been active in pursuing other matters.
Becerra "has certainly been very aggressive with over 50 suits against the Trump administration," Tobias told FOX Business. "He always seems to be in the lead in a number of these attorneys general actions."
And some California state lawmakers are not happy their state is not taking part.
"Becerra's failure to join the bipartisan investigation into Google is embarrassing," Republican California Assemblyman Jordan Cunningham said in an emailed statement. "California is home to thousands of small businesses directly impacted by Google's practices. Becerra's decision to sit on the sidelines has denied them a voice."
Becerra was also scrutinized for having received $23,000 from Google’s corporate political action committee between 2010 and 2016 while running for Congress, but that's not an influential amount compared to the money he has raked in over the years, Tobias said.