October 14, 2016 1:50 pm
Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman John Podesta facilitated meetings between Eric Schmidt, the executive chairman of Alphabet, the parent company of Google, and key Clinton players Robby Mook and Cheryl Mills in 2014, according to hacked emails released by WikiLeaks.
Schmidt also quietly funds a data company that provides services to the Clinton campaign.
Podesta wrote to Schmidt on April 3, 2014, saying he would like him to speak with Robby Mook, now Clinton’s campaign manager, and Cheryl Mills, a longtime Clinton aide.
“Robby is in Australia. Back the 23rd. We could arrange a call before or wait and do a meeting shortly after return,” Podesta said. “Cheryl Mills is in town and I think it would be good for you two to talk. Her office is in Bethesda but probably could come down this afternoon. Up for that?”
“thank you !!! i’ll plan to see robby when he is back in dc,” Schmidt responded (sic throughout). “Cheryl would be great to see; I have a meeting with President from 11 to 1145 and free after that all afternoon any time in the afternoon that is convenient for her is good for me.” Schmidt then provided Podesta with his phone number.
Earlier this year, Schmidt found himself under fire after Google’s search engine was accused of manipulating searches in favor Hillary Clinton and against Donald Trump.
The allegations stemmed from a video released in June by SourceFed, a news website and YouTube channel. The group showcased how Google’s autocomplete features differed from other major search engines and was altering searches to paint Clinton in a more favorable light.
SourceFed discovered that when the phrase “Hillary Clinton Cri” was typed into Google’s search engine, it would autocomplete to “Hillary Clinton Crime Reform,” “Hillary Clinton Crisis,” and “Hillary Clinton Crime Bill 1994.”
When the same phrase was typed into Bing and Yahoo, Google’s competitors, the autocomplete showed “Hillary Clinton criminal charges,” “Hillary Clinton crimes,” Hillary Clinton criminal.”
SourceFed also found that Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders did not receive the same treatment.
When the group typed the same phrases into all of the search engines for Sanders and Trump, all three yielded identical results. A search for “Donald Trump rac,” for example, suggested “Donald Trump racist” on Google, Bing, and Yahoo.
Schmidt responded to the allegations by claiming he does not support any candidate for president. “We have not taken a position on the American election and nor do I expect us to,” Schmidt said.
Despite Schmidt’s publicly neutral stance on the election, he has provided funding to The Groundwork, a data startup that provides services to Clinton’s campaign.
Michael Slaby, the former chief integration and innovation officer for Obama’s campaign, is the cofounder of Timshel, the company that developed The Groundwork. The Groundwork’s website does not provide any information on its data services and only displays a logo.
Hillary Clinton’s campaign has paid The Groundwork almost $600,000 for “technology services” since the campaign’s inception, filings show. Hillary for America appears to be the only committee that pays The Groundwork this election cycle.
Slaby did not respond to a request for comment sent to his company.
Schmidt did not respond to inquiries sent to his email address dealing with the leaked Podesta emails and his funding of The Groundwork.
Becca Rutkoff, a member of Google’s global communications and public affairs team, sent the Washington Free Beacon a statement the company released in June on the accusations it was manipulating its search results.
“The autocomplete algorithm is designed to avoid completing a search for a person’s name with terms that are offensive or disparaging,” the statement reads. “We made this change a while ago following feedback that Autocomplete too often predicted offensive, hurtful or inappropriate queries about people. This filter operates according to the same rules no matter who the person is, as you can see in some examples here.”
“Autocomplete isn’t an exact science, and the output of the prediction algorithms changes frequently,” it continues. “Predictions are produced based on a number of factors including the popularity and freshness of search terms. Given that search activity varies, the terms that appears in Autocomplete for you may change over time.”
Clinton’s campaign did not respond to inquiries.