Google PAC

Do be evil!

Out on Twitter, someone posted a few of the politicians that Google PAC had donated to. The names included Moscow Mitch McConnell, rabid climate denialist Jim Inhofe, and assorted other awful people.

For those outside the US: Corporations here are allowed to set up Political Action Committees or PACs to channel bribes. They are also allowed to “request” that employees “donate” from their pay checks to these PACs. If the employee explicitly asks not to contribute, they’re not legally permitted to punish them, but I’m sure you can imagine how well that works in practice.

For example, coal company Murray Energy “encouraged” its employees to donate generously. In spite of sworn testimony of coercion, a lawsuit against the company was dropped and Murray got away with it. If you’re not familiar with how Bob Murray likes to abuse the law, I suggest watching John Oliver’s TV segment on SLAPP suits, it’s really amazing and totally worth half an hour of your time, even if (like me) you normally skip video. The good news is that Murray Energy has gone into bankruptcy, the bad news is that Bob Murray is still doing business.

But I digress.

Google isn’t quite as planet-destroyingly evil as a coal mining company, so I suspected that there were some employees on the list who might not even know what their money was being spent on. So I hacked together a quick script to extract the text from the PDF, search for all the names, and prep quick links to search for them on Twitter. I then went through the list to check that I’d found the right person each time, so I could politely warn them how Google was spending their donated money.

I only bothered to tell them if it seemed like they weren’t likely to be aware of the situation and happy with it. I have no interest in opening a discussion with anyone who supports Moscow Mitch or Jim Inhofe. It’s surprisingly easy to tell who the Republicans (or collaborators) are, though. Some of the tell-tale signs:

  • They suddenly stopped posting completely, between late 2015 and early 2017.
  • They deleted everything they’ve ever Tweeted some time in the recent past.
  • Their account is locked down so you can’t see anything they’ve posted.
  • They only post about sportsball and technology.
  • They only retweet Google PR tweets.

There were some other cases where I decided to be really judgemental based on content. The guy whining about the quality of his second Tesla? Yeah, I think he’s probably OK with Google PAC. Head of YouTube? Totally OK with it. The guy talking about how amazing it is that there have been more open jobs than unemployed people for 16 months? Total Trumper.

There were examples of the opposite extreme, though. I’m pretty sure the guy trying to get Google to be carbon neutral isn’t a Jim Inhofe fan, and there were plenty of people with Tweets critical of Trump on their timelines.

Maybe it was a waste of time on my part, but my dream is that next week Google HR suddenly have to process a couple of dozen requests by employees to stop contributing to Google PAC.

In case you’re wondering, my employer doesn’t have a PAC. If they did, I wouldn’t contribute to it. In fact, they have a policy of not contributing to any politician’s campaign at all, which I appreciate.