With only two months left before officially taking office, President-elect Joe Biden has either tapped or is rumored to be looking at more than a dozen current and former Big Tech executives for his transition team and administration positions.
Members of the transition team announced by the Biden team so far include notable names from Amazon, Salesforce, Uber, Lyft and Airbnb—many of whom previously worked in the Obama administration. The President-elect is also reportedly considering former Google CEO Eric Schmidt, according to Financial Times, for a leading role in a tech industry task force in the future Biden administration.
Although the Biden team hasn’t confirmed the news yet, progressive groups acted swiftly to advise them against any possible appointment. On Tuesday, an open letter published by the Revolving Door Project, which scrutinizes executive branch appointees, urged the President-elect to “take a hard line against the influence of individuals with close ties to Google.”
“We believe that it sends the wrong message—and could have a chilling effect on U.S. antimonopoly policy moving forward—to have an individual who served at both the helm of Google and its parent company Alphabet Inc. at such a high position in government,” said the letter, signed by 14 groups, including the Open Markets Institute, the Communications Workers of America and the Action Center on Race & the Economy, among others.
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Calling attention to the recent antitrust lawsuit against Google by the Justice Department, the groups warned that an appointment for Schmidt would alienate “an overwhelming majority of the electorate…who want to see the economic power of major corporations reined in.”
They also took issue with news that Schmidt recently obtained citizenship in the European island, Cyprus, which could allow him to legally avoid paying U.S. taxes on his $17 billion fortune, per Forbes‘ latest count.
Schmidt served as Google’s CEO from 2001 to 2011 and chairman of its parent company, Alphabet, from 2011 to 2017. He remained on Alphabet’s board for over until May 2019 and still owns a multi-billion-dollar stake in the tech giant.
A Schmidt spokesperson declined to comment on the open letter or possible appointment in the Biden administration.
Below is a list of confirmed names on Biden’s transition team and their agency assignment:
Tom Sullivan, international tax director at Amazon: State Department
Mark Schwartz, enterprise strategist at Amazon Web Services: Office of Management and Budget team
Brandon Belford, a senior director at Lyft: Office of Management and Budget team
Divya Kumaraiah, a strategy executive at Airbnb: Office of Management and Budget team
Matt Olsen, chief trust and security officer at Uber: Intelligence Community review panel
Michael Hornsby, director of customer success at Salesforce: General Services Administration team
Phillip Carter, senior corporate counsel at Tableau Software (owned by Salesforce): Department of Veterans Affairs
Nicole Isaac, a senior director at LinkedIn: Treasury review panel
Will Fields, senior associate at Sidewalk Labs (owned by Alphabet): Treasury review panel
Ann Dunkin, chief technology officer of local and state government at Dell: Environmental Protection Agency
Arthur Plews, user strategy executive at Stripe: Small Business Administration
Ted Dean, head of public policy at Dropbox: U.S. Trade Representative’s office