Longtime SJ Merc DC reporter (and all-around good guy) Jim Puzzanghera joined the LA Times DC bureau about a month ago. Once he got on board the Times must have noticed that they ran the risk of becoming the last major news publication to do a variation of the "Google Goes to Washington" story.
While the "Google's Search for Political Influence" piece is largely redundant to some of the earlier stories (i.e., Google is moving too slow in DC say DC insiders; Google favors Democrats too much; and; Google will learn the Microsoft lesson and eventually go from 0-60), it does provide for some interesting color that the other earlier, more literal stories miss.
For example, the piece touches on how Google claims how it is different as both a business and how it approaches DC. As a business, it drives Wall Street nuts that the company doesn't provide guidance on future earnings. Theoretically, this allows Google to focus on their long-term strategy instead of becoming obsessed with quarterly earnings results. While Google has annoyed many with this dictum, so far so good on business performance.
Puzzanghera notes that DC is "obsessed with the short-run" and therefore has little patience with Google's "different-ness". Certainly, Google's Cardinal Sin thus far (otherwise known as Though Shall Promptly Hire a Big Name Republican) hasn't helped with the largely partisan (to date) Net Neutrality fight. Yet, if Google does go great guns in DC. our guess is that they will make friends pretty quickly (again, see Microsoft). And, when they do, it appears that Google is making the bet that having issue-area experts are the preference over lobbyists with lots of friends, but perhaps less expertise on specific issues. (Again, this is a company that asks for college GPA from job applicants.)
This brings us to the buried headline in Puzzanghera's piece (at least in geeky tech policy circles). Drum roll please. Yes, Google has hired a Republican...
This double-take is several hundred words into the story...
Davidson is a Democrat and had hired only a junior employee and a support person. Republicans expected Google's next major Washington hire to be a Republican and had passed on the names of potential candidates.
Google appears to have gotten the message. On Friday it announced the hiring of Bush White House aide Jamie E. Brown for a senior position in Washington.
Seems like a last second add to the piece to us. And, so last second, that it may not be totally accurate. Yes, Jamie Brown is joining Google, but there doesn't appear to be any announcements made (at least on any wire or the Google Blog).
According to what we could quickly find online, Brown was most recently was in the Justice Department's "Office of Professional Responsibility" and was on the team that helped prep Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito for his confirmation hearing.
She spent two years in the White House in the Office of Legislative Affairs where she was a liaison to the Senate. Around then, a bio says:
In the spring of 2004, Jamie Brown was named as Special Assistant to the United States President for Legislative Affairs. The announcement came after a series of promotions within the Department of Justice including a September of 2003 appointment by Attorney General John Ashcroft to Director and Advisor to the Attorney General. The position also charges Brown with directing the Office of Intergovernmental and Public Liaison at the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ).
"Jamie's knowledge of the legislative process and her relationships on Capitol Hill have proven invaluable in the Department's relations with Congress. With her breadth of knowledge and experience she will work to continue the unprecedented cooperation we have built with our local and state law enforcement constituencies," said Ashcroft.
In this role, Brown will head up the DOJ's efforts to inform and engage state and local government, law enforcement, and other groups and organizations. Previously, Brown worked for the Department of Justice as Deputy Assistant, Acting Assistant and finally, Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General.
Brown will now work in the same office as ex-Clinton national security speechwriter Bob Boorstin and ex-Congressional Democracy & Technology associate director Alan Davidson. So, you've got a tech policy expert in Davidson, a national security expert in Boorstin and, now, someone incredibly well-versed in the workings of the Justice Department (hello) and policy priorities of the current administration. No glad-handers or full-time schmoozers in this group.
Our gut take is that this is the early foundation of a team that obviously wants to win the current issues of the day, but understand that we are still in the early stages of the collision between technology and public policy and how it impacts society, industries and entire governments. This is smart, and we bet it will eventually pay off.
However, we'll see if the oft-repeated short-term hurdles trip Google as it leaves the starting line of what will be a marathon.
Below: Jamie Brown, left, special assistant to the president; Supreme Court nominee Samuel A. Alito Jr.; former Indiana senator Daniel R. Coats; and police officer R.D. Moore on Capitol Hill.