Groups urge Biden against putting ex-Google head in Cabinet
Progressive groups are urging President-elect Joe Biden against appointing former Google CEO Eric Schmidt to a Cabinet position.
More than a dozen groups signed a letter sent to Biden earlier this week lobbying against Schmidt getting an administration position, largely focusing on allegations over Google’s monopolistic behavior, and writing that such a move could risk Biden’s potential to build back a strong economy.
The Department of Justice charged Google last month with illegally maintaining a monopoly on search and search advertising.
“The suit against Google has the potential to be the most important antitrust case in a generation. Especially as you work to build our economy back better after the pandemic, keeping markets open and competitive is key for expanding economic opportunity, incentivizing innovation, and protecting consumers,” the groups wrote.
“As such, we believe that it sends the wrong message — and could have a chilling effect on U.S. antimonopoly policy moving forward — to have an individual who served at both the helm of Google and its parent company Alphabet Inc. at such a high position in government,” they added.
Schmidt served as CEO of Google from 2001 to 2011, later transitioning to a role as executive chairman from 2011 to 2018. He then served as a technical adviser from 2018 before stepping down earlier this year.
The letter comes after the Financial Times reported that Schmidt is being talked about to lead a new technology industry force in the White House.
The groups argue that appointing Schmidt to a position in the administration would undermine Biden’s efforts to “bridge the partisan divide” in the country, a pledge Biden has pushed as a central tenant since the campaign trail.
“While the appointment of Schmidt may attract praise from certain elites in both Washington and Silicon Valley, it risks alienating an overwhelming majority of the electorate, including within the Democratic base, who want to see the economic power of major corporations reined in,” the groups wrote.
Scrutiny over the market power of the largest tech companies in the nation has spiked since Biden was last in office as vice president, and the Department of Justice’s lawsuit against Google is just one big tech antitrust issue Biden will face when he takes office.
House Democrats released a report this fall over allegations of monopoly power by Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google. The report, however, failed to gain bipartisan support in the House, and the suggested reforms may be difficult to push through Congress if Democrats fail to win both Senate seats in Georgia’s Jan. 5 runoff elections.
A spokesperson for Biden’s transition team was not immediately available for comment.