For Yelp, an expanding push into politics

Building on a push to have its voice heard in Washington, urban Web guide Yelp is joining an Internet trade group.

The San Francisco-based company announced on Thursday that it would join The Internet Association to help press its message on Capitol Hill.

"By bridging online commerce and offline transaction, Yelp's story contributes to the Internet Association's broader narrative: the Internet is creating tremendous economic activity for Main Street small businesses," Yelp’s director of public policy, Luther Lowe, said in a statement announcing the move.

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"We're excited to join other great companies to quantify this narrative in a way policy makers can appreciate while fighting vigorously to ensure individuals are able to freely share their opinions online."

The Internet Association counts Google, AOL and Twitter among its other members. The trade group only began a year ago, but spent $1.6 million in 2013 lobbying on patent reform, immigration and privacy issues.

Yelp’s decision to join the group builds on its recent push to get more politically involved. Some of its main efforts have been a push to protect the rights of users to write critical reviews online and fight strategic lawsuits against public participation.

The company’s participation in the trade group “strengthens The Internet Association's voice as we educate policymakers on the impact of the Internet upon communities worldwide,” said Michael Beckerman, the group’s president and chief executive, in a statement.

Yelp hired its first lobbyist, former House staffer Laurent Crenshaw, last year, and started its own political action committee soon after.

This week, the company hired Seth Bloom, a former general counsel on the Senate Judiciary’s subcommittee on Antitrust, Competition Policy and Consumer Rights to help lobby on “antitrust and competition issues affecting the Internet," according to a federal disclosure form.