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Friday, November 13, 2009

Consumer Watchdog Criticizes Today’s Conference at Google HQ

Consumer Watchdog writes:

Warning that a Democratic Senate Campaign Committee Fundraiser scheduled to be held at Google’s headquarters in Mountain View, CA, on Friday created an appearance of a conflict of interest, Consumer Watchdog called on the seven Senators scheduled to appear not to attend.

“Public policy matters should be decided in a hearing room with sunlight and transparency not in a $5,000-per-seat-minimum venue on the Googleplex Campus,” (...)

“Senators should discuss public policy issues in open forums accessible to anyone who is interested. The public must not be locked out of a policy discussion that is taking place behind closed doors of a donor-funded forum because average Americans cannot afford the price of admission,” the letter said. “This is a private hearing, bought and paid for only by those with a vested interest in the outcome.”

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC) plans to host a “National Innovation Conference” featuring Joel Benenson, pollster to President Obama, at Google’s headquarters on Friday, Nov. 13. Senators Jeff Bingaman, Diane Feinstein, Barbara Boxer, Tom Carper, Mark Warner, Jeff Merkley, and Mark Begich are scheduled to attend. “Hosts” are being asked to contribute $30,400; “sponsors” would give $10,000 and “guests” pay “$5,000.” (...)

“Holding this fundraising event on Google’s campus supposedly to discuss technological innovation gives the company and other Silicon Valley high-rollers a private audience with Senators that will define the terms of the policy debate in a vacuum ... This fundraising forum raises the specter of pay-to-play politics when so many issues of concern to Google and the rest of the Silicon Valley technology community are on the table.”


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