From the Data

Did White House meetings violate ethics rules?

Four White House officials met with Google representatives within two years of leaving the company

Four Googlers-turned-administration officials met with Google executives at the White House within months of their appointments, a potential violation of the administration's own ethics rules. Those include three current White House officials: Megan Smith, Alex Macgillivray and Mikey Dickerson.

The meetings raise questions about President Obama's committment to keep business interests from exercising undue influence on his administation. On his first day in office in 2009, President Obama passed an executive order laying out stringent ethics standards for government officials, aimed at creating "the most open, efficient, and accountable government in history."

These rules focused on closing the revolving door between business and government in a number of ways, including banning Executive Branch employees from participating in meetings concerning their former employers for at least two years. 

The findings emerge from the overlap of two databases created by GTP. Four people who appear in the Revolving Door database also appear in the White House Meetings database. In their capacity as White House officials, all four held meetings with Google representatives within six months of their appointment to the administration. None of these individuals appear on the administration's list of granted ethics waivers.

These meetings appear to violate item 2 of the Ethics Commitments for Executive Branch Personnel stipulated in President Obama's executive order. The order states that any appointee entering government "will not for a period of 2 years from the date of [their] appointment participate in any particular matter involving specific parties that is directly and substantially related to my former employer or former clients, including regulations and contracts."

The data show:

  • Four White House employees held at least 19 meetings that may have violated the ethics policy.
  • All of these meetings occured within one year of each official's transition from Google to government
  • Two White House officials held multiple meetings with their former Google colleagues
  • These same two officials held meetings with Google employees during the same month that they moved from Google to the White House

See the full list of White House Meetings held by ex-Googlers within two years of their appointment to government below:

Name

White House Title

White House Start Month

Meeting Date

Google Attendees

Alex Macgillivray

OSTP Deputy Gen. Counsel Intellectual Property

September 2014

2/6/15

Vint Cerf (Google Evangelist)

Megan Smith

U.S. Chief Technology Offier Office of Science & Technology Policy

September 2014

9/19/14

Ginny Hunt (Google Principal, Strategy & Civic Innovation)

Megan Smith

U.S. Chief Technology Offier Office of Science & Technology Policy

September 2014

9/23/14

Ginny Hunt (Google Principal, Strategy & Civic Innovation)

Megan Smith

U.S. Chief Technology Offier Office of Science & Technology Policy

September 2014

9/23/14

Ginny Hunt (Google Principal, Strategy & Civic Innovation)

Megan Smith

U.S. Chief Technology Offier Office of Science & Technology Policy

September 2014

10/23/14

Eric Brewer (Google VP Infrastructure)

Megan Smith

U.S. Chief Technology Offier Office of Science & Technology Policy

September 2014

1/28/15

Daniel Wagner (CEO Civis Analytics)

Megan Smith

U.S. Chief Technology Offier Office of Science & Technology Policy

September 2014

1/30/15

Anthony Faddell (CEO Nest Labs)

Megan Smith

U.S. Chief Technology Offier Office of Science & Technology Policy

September 2014

2/6/15

Vint Cerf (Google Evangelist)

Megan Smith

U.S. Chief Technology Offier Office of Science & Technology Policy

September 2014

2/6/15

Vint Cerf (Google Evangelist)

Megan Smith

U.S. Chief Technology Offier Office of Science & Technology Policy

September 2014

9/15/15

Esther Wojcicki (Google Teacher Academy)

Megan Smith

U.S. Chief Technology Offier Office of Science & Technology Policy

September 2014

9/15/15

Esther Wojcicki (Google Teacher Academy)

Mikey Dickerson

US Digital Service Administrator (Founder)

August 2014

9/8/14

Nathan Parker (Google Staff Software Engineer)

Mikey Dickerson

US Digital Service Administrator (Founder)

August 2014

9/8/14

Nathan Parker (Google Staff Software Engineer)

Mikey Dickerson

US Digital Service Administrator (Founder)

August 2014

9/15/14

Nathan Parker (Google Staff Software Engineer)

Mikey Dickerson

US Digital Service Administrator (Founder)

August 2014

9/22/14

Ginny Hunt (Google Principal, Strategy & Civic Innovation)

Mikey Dickerson

US Digital Service Administrator (Founder)

August 2014

10/16/14

Nathan Parker (Google Staff Software Engineer)

Nicole Wong

Special Advisor Privacy to US Chief Technology Officer

May 2013

11/14/13

David Drummond (Google Chief Legal Officer), Susan Molinari (Google VP for Public Affairs), Johanna Shelton (Google Dir. Public Policy)