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Press Release Published:Apr 26, 2022

Top Republicans Probe Big Tech’s Influence on the Biden Administration

WASHINGTON—House Committee on Oversight and Reform Ranking Member James Comer (R-Ky.), Committee on Science, Space, and Technology Ranking Member Frank Lucas (R-Okla.), Subcommittee on the Environment Ranking Member Ralph Norman (R-S.C.), and the Science Committee’s Subcommittee on Investigations and Oversight Ranking Member Jay Obernolte (R-Calif.) today probed Big Tech’s influence and access at the White House’s Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) and across the Biden Administration. In letters to White House Counsel Dana Remus and Office of Government Ethics (OGE) Director Emory Rounds, the Republican lawmakers sound the alarm on former Google CEO, Eric Schmidt’s involvement with OSTP. Schmidt’s nonprofit foundation is paying the salaries of several OSTP employees and a whistleblower was demoted after she raised concerns about the troubling arrangement.

“Committee on Oversight and Reform, and Committee on Science, Space, and Technology Republicans are investigating mismanagement and unethical conduct at the White House. Specifically, Committee Republicans are concerned about the extent of Big Tech’s influence on the Biden Administration. Information reviewed by Committee Republicans shows that at least one organization affiliated with Big Tech is unduly influencing policy at the White House. This influence contributed to the demotion of the career general counsel at the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) after she raised questions about a troubling arrangement with former Google CEO Eric Schmidt’s nonprofit foundation,” wrote the Republican lawmakers.

According to information obtained by Committee Republicans and confirmed by recent media reports, the career general counsel at OSTP was demoted from her position after raising questions about the improper influence of Eric Schmidt’s nonprofit foundation, Schmidt Futures. In early 2021, shortly after President Biden’s inauguration, the career general counsel informed OSTP senior leadership that consultants and fellows employed at OSTP were improperly receiving salaries from Schmidt Futures and working directly on issues of policy impacting the work of Schmidt Futures.

“Schmidt Futures paying White House employees’ salaries raises serious ethical issues,” continued the Republican lawmakers. “This conduct raises concerns not only about the extent of influence of Mr. Schmidt, but also if others connected to Big Tech are placing employees in key jobs to influence policy throughout the Administration. While the Administration directs Americans to ‘follow the science,’ it apparently allows Big Tech to unduly influence policy in the office responsible for advising the President on science and technology. The American people deserve to know the relationship between Big Tech and the Administration.”

The Republican lawmakers call on White House Counsel Dana Remus to provide all documents related to former Google CEO Eric Schmidt’s influence on White House personnel matters and also call on OGE Director Emory Rounds to provide information on political appointees who have been employed by Big Tech or Schmidt’s nonprofit. 

The letter to OGE Director Rounds can be found here.

The letter to Counsel to the President Remus can be found here.