On September 12, 2018, CfA Executive Director Daniel Stevens discussed Google’s influence in Washington with Tucker Carlson on his Fox News show, Tucker Carlson Tonight.
"Foreign propaganda from Russia and Iran spreading on Google's platform is also a concern for lawmakers. In July, Google rolled out stricter policies for political ads. Yet watchdog group Campaign for Accountability found it could still buy ads with a Google AdWords account it set up using the name and details of a notorious Russian propaganda group -- ads it paid for with rubles."
"'There's an empty chair next to you from Google, they're not here today. Maybe it's because they're arrogant,' said Senator Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) blasting the search engine. Rubio then referenced a recent report showing how the group Campaign for Accountability was able to pose as the Russian troll farm Internet Research Agency and set up political advertising on Google’s ad network."
On Wednesday, September 5, 2018, the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee held a hearing on foreign influence campaigns' use of social media platforms. Several senators criticized Google for not attending the hearing, while Facebook and Twitter sent top executives. Sens. Mark Warner (D-VA) and Marco Rubio (R-FL) cited CfA's research in their criticisms of Google, specifically CfA's successful effort to pose as a Russian troll farm to buy Google ads.
"Nationally, Campaign for Accountability, a Washington-based group critical of solar, has tracked a sharp rise in company complaints by consumers in the past five years. 'Often the target customer who is ripe for abuse is somebody who is retired, has a fixed income, and who is taken in by the promise of a constant electric bill,' said its executive director, Daniel Stevens. 'The individual will wind up being charged more for their electric costs than they were before they installed solar panels. It’s one of the clearest ways that these companies mislead customers.'"
“Google has admitted it’s trying to stop this activity when it comes to issue ads but its clear there’s a huge gap in their policing of this content,” Stevens told BuzzFeed News. “It feels like a flagrant abdication of responsibility and it’s in-line with the trend we see from Google — they're very hesitant to crack down on things that are a threat to their business model.”
On September 4, 2018, CfA released a report documenting how CfA bought politically divisive ads on Google using Russian rubles and a Russian IP address. CfA posed as the infamous Russian troll farm, the Internet Research Agency (IRA), and bought ads using similar language and the same images that the IRA deployed during its 2016 influence campaign. The ads ran on major U.S. media websites and their YouTube channels.
"Yet BlackRock hasn’t entirely avoided scrutiny—its cozy relationship with Washington officials has been a source of more attention. The Campaign for Accountability, a Washington, D.C.-based organization, launched a project in June tracking the revolving door of BlackRock executives in and out of halls of power; these include Brian Deese, a climate adviser to the Obama administration who joined BlackRock to run sustainable investing in 2017, and Carol Lee, who went from BlackRock’s compliance department to be securities compliance examiner at the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission last year."
New Report Adds to Conflict of Interest Concerns Surrounding BlackRock’s Advisory Role in Trudeau’s Canada Infrastructure Bank
On August 27, 2018, CfA released a new report detailing how BlackRock – the world’s largest asset manager – appears to have been intimately involved not only in advising the Trudeau government about the creation of its Canada Infrastructure Bank, a government-backed financial institution championed by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, but also in the government’s appointment of key Bank personnel and staff. The new revelations add to the growing conflict of interest concerns surrounding the Bank’s creation and provide new evidence for those calling for a full investigation of BlackRock’s advisory role with the Trudeau government.
"Dozens of Google alumni would serve in the White House or elsewhere in the administration, and by one estimate Google representatives visited the White House an average of about once a week."