Why Google Joins the Kochs in Funding Heritage Action


For a company whose “Do No Evil” slogan is known around the world, Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) has been funding nonprofits with an established reputation for impacting society in a negative way. The Center for Media and Democracy reports that groups receiving Google’s donations include Heritage Action and Americans for Tax Reform, two organizations behind recent national crises. A look at Google’s donations suggests tax policies and limiting regulations are taking precedence on the company’s sweeping priority list.

Google and the government shutdown 

The Center for Media and Democracy’s list of groups Google funded had noteworthy new entries in 2012, with Heritage Action standing out above all others. It was the first time Google had donated sums to Heritage Action that the company described as “substantial,” according to CMD. Heritage Action  receives hundreds of thousands of dollars annually from the billionaire Koch brothers but became most famous for its efforts supporting the U.S. government shutdown in October as part of the effort to defund Obamacare.

Heritage Action, which puts into practice ideas developed at the right-wing Heritage Foundation think tank, counts dismantling Obamacare as one of its chief objectives. However, the Koch-funded nonprofit has a broader goal of fighting “big-government special interests” that have “dominated Washington … for too long,” according to the company’s website.Heritage Action focuses mainly on Obamacare but has sections devoted to taxes and other “conservative principles” such as deregulation. The New York Times reported in June that Google spent $18.2 million in 2012 in efforts to lobby Washington on behalf of company goals, which include fighting off increased activity on the part of lawmakers to limit the company’s access to consumer information via search and other online activities.

Google and Grover Norquist 

The nonprofit Center for Media and Democracy also listed Grover Norquist’s Americans for Tax Reform as a recipient of “substantial” funds from Google for the first time in 2012. Norquist is famous for getting Republican lawmakers to sign a pledge saying that they will not support bills that raise taxes. During the fiscal cliff shutdown at the end of 2012, Noquist was constantly in the news for his efforts to thwart any deal that would bring in more tax revenue for the federal government.

On the topic of taxes, Google has an interest in continuing the status quo that allows the company to save $2 billion per year when filing its tax returns, Bloomberg reports. In a strategy known as a “Double Irish,” Google has used Ireland as a base for accounting practices that give the company an effective tax shelter.

Google’s tax policy follows the rules in place, which is why many lawmakers are pushing to reform the tax code and close loopholes for companies using sophisticated practices that cost the U.S. Treasury billions every year.

There is no question that Google is a supporter of traditionally liberal causes, as well. A glance at the company’s website reveals that the NAACP and Progressive Policy Institute are also among the groups receiving donations. However, Google signaled a change when it added former GOP House member Susan Molinari to head the company’s lobbying efforts in Washington in 2012. According to The New York Times, Google now outspends government contractor Lockheed Martin (NYSE:LMT) in its lobbying efforts.

Americans for Tax Reform and Heritage Action are organizations partly responsible for the most recent government crises, the latter of which nearly led to national debt default after the 16-day partial government shutdown, which many Americans considered misguided at best and amoral at worst. Nonetheless, Google is signaling its business is far too big to risk at this point. Even if there are a few casualties along the way, its lobbying efforts emphasize keeping that business booming.

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