Google wined and dined FTC commissioners in Aspen

The FTC has approved Google's $3.1 billion acquisition, ignoring claims of conflict of interest that could have slowed down the process, like FTC chair Deborah Platt Majoras's marriage to a lawyer whose firm represented DoubleClick in the matter. And that wasn't the only scandal. Google cash paid, indirectly, for a lavish summit in Aspen that three commmissioners attended.

The Progress and Freedom Foundation is a "think tank" — an intellectual-sounding label for what amounts to lobbyist group. It has received support and funding from Google. Its president gave Senate testimony in support of the Google-DoubleClick merger.

And at its Aspen Summit conferences held at the swank St. Regis Resort over the past two years, the foundation has playd host to three of the FTC's five commissioners: Majoras (Aspen Summit, '06), William E. Kovacic (Aspen Summit, '07), and Jon Leibowitz (Aspen Summit, '06). All three were among the recusal-adverse yes-men who approved Google's $3.1 billion acquisition of DoubleClick by a vote of 4-1 after an eight-month investigation.

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To which we can only say: Well done, Google. Larry and Sergey's little startup has gotten over its aversion to evil and embraced the byways of Washington. You think Microsoft isn't wining and dining politicians and bureaucrats at every opportunity? We're not saying that spending a beautiful week at a luxurious hotel in the mountains of Colorado, with Google indirectly footing the bill, had anything to do with the commission's decision. We're just saying that it's good Google has learned how to play the game, instead of trying to make up its own rules.

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