Google Bolsters Its Washington Presence

John G. Roberts Jr. conferred with Jamie E. Brown before a Senate hearing that led to his confirmation as chief justice of the United States.
John G. Roberts Jr. conferred with Jamie E. Brown before a Senate hearing that led to his confirmation as chief justice of the United States. (By Bill O'leary -- The Washington Post)
By Judy Sarasohn
Thursday, May 25, 2006

Google, which along with other Internet companies is battling the telephone and cable giants over "network neutrality," is doubling the size of its Washington lobby staff.

From one to two.

Yet, it's a big hire for Google Inc. Jamie E. Brown , a special assistant to President Bush for legislative affairs, will join the company next month as federal relations counsel. She'll be working with Alan B. Davidson , head of the office, a Democrat, and previously associate director of the Center for Democracy and Technology, a public policy nonprofit that supports access to the Internet, privacy rights and free expression.

The company does have a couple of junior support people in the D.C. office and some outside lobbyists. Jon Murchinson , a spokesman for Google, said the company plans to build its Washington office but has no specific number in mind.

Although the lobby-biz chatter is that Google needs to add some Republican firepower in town, Murchison wouldn't talk partisan politics.

"We hired her because she's going to be an asset" to our users, he said. "Jamie has a track record of success in guiding important and complicated issues through the legislative process, and she will be a strong advocate on behalf of Google and our users."

Ed Gillespie , the Republican of Quinn Gillespie & Associates , worked closely with Brown on the Senate confirmations of Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. She participated in mock hearings to prepare them and walked the Capitol halls with them.

"She is one of the smartest, most energetic people I've ever worked with," Gillespie said. "She will be a huge asset to Google at a time when they need some help on the Republican side."

On "network neutrality," Google, Inc., Yahoo Inc. and others are fighting Verizon Communications Inc., AT&T Inc. and other broadband behemoths over access to new fiber-optic networks. Other issues that Google cares about on the Hill involve copyright laws, privacy and foreign trade.

Brown said in a statement: "I have been incredibly honored to be able to serve the president in the White House, but I am thrilled about this opportunity to join the excellent team at Google. This is an extraordinarily exciting and important time for the Internet industry, with many policy questions being debated and decided for the very first time."

Bush Veteran Moves On

Speaking of veterans of the Bush administration . . . Kelley Gannon , who traipsed around the world doing press advance for both Presidents Bush and more recently worked for the chain-drugstore folks, has joined Fleishman-Hillard as a senior vice president in the firm's public affairs practice.

Gannon had been vice president of communications at the National Association of Chain Drug Stores since 2003. She said her move to Fleishman was unrelated to the shake-up at NACDS; her boss there, Craig L. Fuller , resigned last month.

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