A close Google ally has for the second time taken a prominent role in politics, with the latest step putting him in an extremely influential position, according to a new report.
George Mason University law professor Joshua Wright in 2013 was sworn in as a commissioner in the U.S. Federal Trade Commission. At that point he was already closely tied to Google. While a law professor, Wright had received funding from the company for academic research that reached conclusions favorable to Google.
According to The Intercept, which reported Wright’s appointment to the transition team for President-elect Donald Trump, Wright has received funding from Google for at least four academic papers, “all of which supported Google’s position that it did not violate antitrust laws when it favored its own sites in search engine requests and restricted advertisers from running ads on competitors.”
Described in SiliconBeat in 2012 as “a staunch opponent of antitrust actions” who was a senior adjunct fellow at a Google-funded institute, Wright agreed upon taking the role at the FTC to abstain from decisions affecting Google for two years. Although appointed to a six-year term, he left the FTC in 2015, returning to George Mason. In January, he was named “of counsel,” or a specially attached lawyer, to the Washington, D.C. office of legal firm Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati, reported by The Intercept to be “Google’s main outside law firm.”
Wright will reportedly head transition of the FTC in his role on the Trump transition team.
On Monday, he argued in a New York Times op-ed against increased government antitrust action, saying, “a high level of concentration in an industry simply does not mean the industry lacks competition.”
The Intercept, an online news magazine published by the company of billionaire eBay founder Pierre Omidyar, did not agree with that statement.
“This flies in the face of a raft not just of common sense, but also of new research from the Council of Economic Advisers, the Federal Reserve, and academics, showing that excessive mergers lead to price hikes, lower productivity, and weakened economic vitality.”
Photo: Joshua Wright (file photo)