Google has fired several of its largest lobbying firms and shuffled lobbyists and other political consultants amid a possible antitrust probe by the U.S. Justice Department, a Wednesday report said.
The tech giant dumped about six of its largest lobbying firms and reorganized its lobbyists and Washington consultants, The Wall Street Journal reported. Some of the firms and lobbyists include Republican strategist Charlie Black and Off Hill Strategies LLC.
Karan Bhatia, the company’s new head of policy and government relations, has been implementing changes and evaluating Google’s influence since she joined the tech firm last summer. She reportedly asked some employees in Google’s policy department to reapply for their own jobs earlier this year.
Google had employed dozens of lobby firms and lobbyists in the past. Out of all U.S. corporations, the company spent the most on lobbying in 2018 with $21.7 million, the Journal reported. It employed 100 lobbyists and nearly 30 lobby firms that year.
The company donated millions of dollars to organizations, including political entities and universities, which then helped Google “shape the debate” on several issues. Google employees also gave money to the Democratic Party and candidates, making the tech giant one of the largest sources of campaign donations to the group.
The shakeup comes after the Journal reported the Justice Department is gearing up to investigate antitrust violations by Google, focusing largely on the company’s search practices. Assistant Attorney General for Antitrust Makan Delrahim suggested Tuesday he'll take a broad view of how the competition is harmed when assessing whether big tech firms should be broken up.
"The current landscape suggests there are only one or two significant players in important digital spaces, including internet search, social networks, mobile and desktop operating systems, and electronic book sales," he said. "This is true in certain input markets as well. For example, just two firms take in the lion's share of online ad spending."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.