Revolving door: Big Tech staffed with hundreds of ex-DOJ employees amid antitrust battle

Big Tech, Amazon, Apple, Google, Facebook
Big Tech, Amazon, Apple, Google, Facebook (iStock)

Revolving door: Big Tech staffed with hundreds of ex-DOJ employees amid antitrust battle

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Big Tech is staffed with hundreds of former Department of Justice employees, some of whom have key insight into government antitrust investigative methods, according to a watchdog’s “revolving door” analysis.

Google, Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Microsoft, and HP have hired at least 360 DOJ employees, mostly since 2011 and in one example dating back to 2000, according to an analysis by the American Accountability Foundation, a conservative watchdog group. The analysis, which also includes information on DOJ employees who used to work for Big Tech, comes amid the department’s antitrust lawsuit against Google and other investigations into tech giants.

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“Normally it is not concerning when individuals move between government and industry because it is usually for professional purposes,” Tom Jones, president of AAF, told the Washington Examiner. “Why Americans should be troubled by this revolving door is because it is an ideological relationship where leftists move back and forth between industry and government to implement their liberal agenda.”

“When the levers of government are not available, they use the levers of Big Tech to push a woke agenda,” Jones, the former opposition research program head for Sen. Ted Cruz’s (R-TX) presidential campaign in 2016 and an ex-legislative director to Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI), added. “It is insidious and needs to stop.”

In January, the DOJ unveiled an antitrust lawsuit against Google that aims to make the company divest parts of its online advertising business. It was the second time in two years that the government sued the tech giant given Trump’s DOJ accused Google in October 2020 of acting in a competitive way through alleged monopoly power.

Meanwhile, Big Tech is at the forefront of investigations spearheaded by the Biden administration and Congress. The DOJ recently escalated its long-running inquiry into Apple launched in 2019 that is evaluating its mobile software policies, the Wall Street Journal reported. In February, for instance, Cruz unveiled a sweeping investigation into Facebook parent company Meta, Google, Twitter, and TikTok, seeking information on their algorithms and alleged use of “blacklists” to downrank conservative websites.

AAF’s analysis, which is based on public reports and LinkedIn records, accounted for the likes of Lawrence Reicher and Chris Sonderby. Reicher, who was chief of the DOJ’s Office of Decree Enforcement and Compliance within the Antitrust Division between 2020 and 2022, is now corporate counsel for litigation and antitrust at Amazon. Between 2019 and 2020, he was also counsel to the assistant attorney general.

Sonderby has been vice president and deputy general counsel since 2010 for Meta, where he oversees an over 500-person legal team. He was a senior DOJ representative in Asia from 2006 and 2010 and an assistant U.S. attorney from 1998 to 2006 in San Francisco.

All in all, Google has brought on 40 employees who used to work for the DOJ since Biden took office, according to AAF. Amazon hired 61 former DOJ employees since that time, while Microsoft has hired 26 legal and technological employees, the watchdog said.

There are also at least 41 current DOJ employees holding “influential roles” that used to work for Big Tech, according to the watchdog’s analysis. Two are Glenn Leon and Dorian Hurley.

Leon, the DOJ’s criminal fraud section chief since September 2022, worked between 2014 and 2022 as the chief ethics and compliance officer for HP. He also worked at the DOJ under former President Barack Obama between 1998 and 2014, a time frame that saw the government handling various cases that involved HP.

Hurley, a trial attorney who joined the department in June 2022, was corporate counsel for Amazon between August 2021 and May 2022, according to her LinkedIn profile. She was previously a judicial law clerk for the U.S. District Court for the District of New Hampshire and a passport specialist for the Department of State.

Antitrust has spawned heated debate in Congress, with Rep. Ken Buck (R-CO), a longtime critic of Big Tech, saying in mid-March that he doesn’t see Republican leadership imposing tougher laws. The House Judiciary Committee’s antitrust subcommittee is being led by Rep. Thomas Massie (R-KY), who has leaned libertarian on issues and is considered by more conservative Republicans to be less likely to target corporate power than Buck.

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Buck and Rep. David Cicilline (D-RI) formed the Congressional Antitrust Caucus in early February with the aim of “holding Big Tech and monopolies accountable.”

“The Congressional Antitrust Caucus will give members of Congress who care about holding monopolies accountable and encouraging competition in the Big Tech marketplace an opportunity to bring competition policy to the Congress and to the minds of the American people,” Buck said at the time. “This is a critically important policy area and one where thoughtful, bipartisan work can deliver results.”

© 2023 Washington Examiner

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