It will not come as a surprise even to casual observers of the Big Tech-Big Government revolving door phenomenon, but now the time has come for mainstream media in the US to pick up on the fact that former Google CEO Eric Schmidt is – and has been for a while – a strong presence and a man of influence in various US administrations.
Judging by the reports such as the one published by Politico, Schmidt became particularly comfortable in the Biden White House, all the way to allegedly paying salaries of some employees of the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OTSP) – an entity established by Congress.
Furthermore, he is described as being particularly close to Eric Lander, the now former head of the OTSP who had to step down amid allegations of bullying, while Schmidt’s post-Google career has been that of a member of boards of a number of tech firms, including those developing Artificial Intelligence (AI) products and services. And this raises the issue of ethics, all the way to a possible conflict of interest.
Namely, one of the key jobs of the OTSP is to come up with AI policy and make sure it gets funded.
Even though Schmidt has been lobbying administrations for years and was involved in, and donating to Barack Obama’s campaign in 2008 – while claiming Google (that he was still the CEO of at the time) was “neutral” – the level to which he has “infiltrated” the current White House seems to stand out.
Not only has money from his Schmidt Futures charity outfit been going towards the OTSP, but a sizable chunk of the Office’s staff – said to be “dozens” – are said to be former or current employees of the billionaire.
The spotlight is now on Schmidt because of the circumstances surrounding Lander’s resignation, which came as former OTSP general counsel Rachel Wallace accused him, among other things, of mistreatment in retaliation for her criticism of Schmidt’s influence.
This latest example of the revolving door entanglement between powerful corporations and government entities is considered as one reason for the diminishing trust Americans these days have in both.