Google, The Podesta's and Clinton-Obama - All The Same Rats
Google, The Podesta's and Clinton-Obama - All The Same Rats
In the wake of her staggering defeat last November, several historically large contributors to the Clinton Foundation slashed their donations (see here and here), presumably because they either realized their pay-for-play scam was ruined or they suddenly lost interest in the Foundation's various charitable efforts...we'll let you decide which is more likely.
But, the Clinton Foundation isn't the only "influence peddler" taking a hit as a result of Hillary's loss. According to Bloomberg, The Podesta Group, the lobbying firm run by the brother of Hillary's former campaign manager, John Podesta, has just lost a lucrative contract with Google, a key Hillary ally throughout the 2016 campaign.
After at least 12 years together, Alphabet Inc., the parent of Google, won’t be represented by one of Washington’s most prominent lobbying groups, a firm with long-standing ties to the Democratic party and Hillary Clinton.
The Podesta Group -- whose chairman, Tony Podesta, is a major Democratic fundraiser and the brother of Clinton’s former campaign manager -- is no longer lobbying on behalf of Google, public disclosures show. The change coincided with Google’s bid to hire someone for “conservative outreach,” according to a December job advertisement.
Per Bloomberg, The Podesta Group collected $80,000 in fees from Google in the last 3 months of 2016 alone.
But, the story doesn't end there. Ironically, the firing of The Podesta Group seems to coincide with an exclusive report from the Silicon Valley Business Journal that Eric Braverman, the former Clinton Foundation CEO, had been hired to "oversee the non-investment side of the family office of Alphabet Inc. Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt and his wife, Wendy."
Of course, as many of our readers will remember, Braverman is the Clinton Foundation CEO who abruptly resigned after a short period in office and was speculated, at least by John Podesta and Neera Tanden, to be the insider who told NBC to "follow the money and find the real HRC scandal" (see "Meet The Man Who Can Expose 'The Real Hillary Clinton Scandal'"). Here is an excerpt of what we previously wrote:
Now, new WikiLeaks emails reveal additional details behind the the man, Eric Braverman, who was brought in as CEO by Chelsea to change the controversial practices of the Foundation but abruptly resigned a short time later after being pushed out by long-time Clinton loyalists who had apparently grown very comfortable with the status quo.
Below is the new email exchange which begins when Neera Tanden warns John Podesta to "keep tabs on Doug Band" who she assumed was the insider who told NBC to "follow the money and find the real HRC scandal." Interestingly, John Podesta writes back quickly to identify the real source as former Clinton Foundation CEO Eric Braverman which seems to be shocking to Tanden who replies simply, "Holy Moses."
That said, the announcement also follows a recent Google job listing looking for a new "Conservative Outreach Manager" that would act as a "liaison to conservative, libertarian and free market groups" (see "Google Searches For "Conservative Outreach Manager" After Failing To Elect Hillary").
As a member of Google's Public Policy team, you help shape various product and issue agendas with policy makers inside and outside government. In addition, you will help advise our internal teams on the public policy implications of their products, working with a closely coordinated and cross-functional global team. The role requires significant experience either working with or in government, politics or a regulatory agency as well as an ability to grasp complex technical and policy issues.
As a member of Google's Public Policy outreach team, you will act as Google’s liaison to conservative, libertarian and free market groups. You are part organizer, part advocate and part policy wonk as you understand the world of third-party non-governmental advocacy organizations. You are eager to represent Google among those organizations. You can work a room, tell Google’s story in an elevator or from a podium and work with partner organizations on shared projects to advance Google’s public policy goals.
So, what say you...innocent shift in Google's lobbying effort to target a new Republican administration or sweet retribution for Eric Braverman? Bit of both?
The Ivanpah solar plant in the Mojave Desert in California was facing closure due to underperformance and high cost, but the California Public Utilities Commission (PUC) has decided to grant the federally-backed plant an extension. Ivanpah now has until the end of July to show an improvement in performance, and the PUC is not disclosing how much this will cost taxpayers.
The California Public Utilities Commission subsequently refused to disclose how much the deal would cost state ratepayers. The PUC’s Office of Ratepayer Advocates stood with other consumer groups who argued “customers should no longer pay for costs associated” with Ivanpah, according to a PUC decision.
The PUC dismissed the ratepayer advocate’s concerns and approved PG&E’s plan to throw Ivanpah a lifeline, though the utility regulator wrote the “[a]ctual costs of the Forbearance Agreements are confidential at this time.”
The Ivanpah solar plant had received $1.2 billion from the Obama administration in 2011, before it officially opened in 2014. At it’s opening, Department of Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz lauded it:
“This project speaks for itself. Just look at the 170,000 shining heliostat mirrors and the three towers that would dwarf the Statue of Liberty. Ivanpah is the largest solar thermal energy facility in the world with 392 MW of capacity — meaning it can produce enough renewable electricity to power nearly 100,000 homes.”
The problem with the solar plant, however, was that it continued to underperform compared with what it was contractually obligated to produce for Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E).
In addition, the cost was so high for it to underproduce electricity that it had to ask for an additional half a billion dollars in federal grant money just to keep it afloat and help pay off its $1.6 billion loan. The Daily Caller reported:
The plant only generated 45 percent of expected power in 2014 and only 68 percent in 2015, according to government data.
And it does all this at a cost of $200 per megawatt hour — nearly six times the cost of electricity from natural gas-fired power plants. Interestingly enough, Ivanpah uses natural gas to supplement its solar production.
These disappointing results at high prices could be the solar plant’s undoing. California Energy Commission regulators hoped the plant would help the state get 33 percent of its electricity from green sources, but now the plant could be shut down for not meeting its production promises.
Ivanpah’s managers blamed the plant’s underproduction on the weather, saying that they’ve had to deal with a 9-percent drop in sunshine, which has apparently translated into a 32-percent drop in production.
The solar panels are using the sunshine not to be directly converted into electricity, but to boil water in order to power conventional turbines. It burns natural gas about four and a half hours each morning just to get warmed up, which according to David Kreutzer with the Heritage Foundation, “would be enough to generate over one quarter of the power actually produced from the solar energy.”
NEW SILICON VALLEY LEADERS SAY "GOOGLE IS A MENACE TO SOCIETY"
Is billionaire VC Peter Thiel trying to break up Google?
So far, high-profile Silicon Valley venture capitalist and PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel isn’t saying publicly why he gave hundreds of thousands of dollars to the campaign of a state attorney general who’s just launched an antitrust probe of Google.
But it’s not the first time Thiel has handed cash to an AG who went after Google over monopoly concerns.
Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley announced Nov. 13 that his office was investigating Google to see if the Mountain View tech giant had violated the state’s antitrust and consumer-protection laws. The Missouri attorney general said he had issued an investigative subpoena to Google. He’s looking at the firm’s handling of users’ personal data, along with claims that it misappropriated content from rivals and pushed down competitors’ websites in search results.
Google did not immediately respond to a request for comment about the Missouri action and Thiel’s support of Hawley.
The company has been at the center of controversy over whether some of America’s most successful tech companies are monopolies and should be regulated or broken up. A New York Times op-ed in April asked, “Is It Time to Break Up Google?”
“We are going to have to decide fairly soon whether Google, Facebook and Amazon are the kinds of natural monopolies that need to be regulated,” wrote Jonathan Taplin, former director of USC’s Annenberg School of Innovation and author of “Move Fast and Break Things: How Google, Facebook, and Amazon Have Cornered Culture and Undermined Democracy.”
In June, the European Union slapped Google with a $2.7 billion antitrust fine for favoring some of its services over competitors’. Google has said it was considering an appeal.
In Missouri, Thiel put his money behind Hawley in 2015, with $100,000 contributed during Hawley’s campaign for the state attorney general’s seat, then added two more $100,000 donations to the campaign in 2016, according to the National Institute on Money in State Politics. Hawley was sworn in on Jan. 9.
Hawley is not the only state attorney general to have probed Google over antitrust concerns. Former Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott began investigating Google in 2010. In 2013, Thiel donated $100,000 to Abbott, according to the National Institute on Money in State Politics.
This news organization has asked the Texas Attorney General’s office for information about the status of the Google investigation — this article will be updated if an answer is provided.
In response to Abbott’s probe, Google in 2010 said in a blog post that it was sometimes asked about the fairness of its search engine.
“Why do some websites get higher rankings than others?” the post said.
“The important thing to remember is that we built Google to provide the most useful, relevant search results and ads for users. In other words, our focus is on users, not websites. Given that not every website can be at the top of the results, or even appear on the first page of our results, it’s unsurprising that some less relevant, lower quality websites will be unhappy with their ranking.”
Thiel, a billionaire libertarian, previously used his ample financial resources to target a different company: media firm Gawker. Thiel funded a lawsuit by entertainer Hulk Hogan over a sex tape published on Gawker.com, which had earlier publicly outed Thiel as gay. The lawsuit brought about the website’s demise.
Thiel did not immediately respond to a request for comment.