SAN FRANCISCO — Google’s U.S. lobbying bill more than tripled to $3.76 million in the fourth quarter as the Internet search leader fought proposed changes to online piracy laws and sought to influence a wide range of other issues that could affect its fortunes.
The amount is the company’s largest lobbying tab for any quarter since its Washington office opened in 2005. The company spent $1.24 million on lobbying during the final three months of 2010 and $2.38 million in the third quarter of 2011.
For all of 2011, Google spent $9.7 million on political persuasion, nearly doubling 2010’s total, $5.2 million.
The company disclosed its fourth-quarter lobbying figures in documents filed late Friday with the U.S. House clerk’s office.
Google’s lobbying expenses have been rising steadily against a backdrop of intensified U.S. government scrutiny of the company’s acquisitions and business practices. The focus has been prompted by complaints alleging that Google is abusing its dominance of the lucrative Internet search market to stifle competition and muscle its way into other markets.
As a foil, Google last summer hired a dozen lobbing firms — Akin, Gump; Bingham; Capitol Legislative Strategies; Chesapeake Group; Crossroads Strategies; Gephardt Group; Holland & Knight; Normandy Group; Prime Policy; The First Group; The Madison Group; and the Raben Group — to supplement the team that it already employed in Washington.
Google’s emphasis on lobbying mirrors what Microsoft did during the late 1990s while the Justice Department pursued an antitrust case against the software marker. Microsoft eventually thwarted the government’s attempt to break up the company, but not before years of legal wrangling that included a high-profile trial.