"The consensus within the company was that that was some sort of mistake and so we're trying to not do that in the future," Schmidt said of the funding.
Google had initially supported ALEC over an "unrelated" issue, Schmidt told Rehm. But ALEC's stand on climate change convinced Google to pull its support.
"The company has a very strong view that we should make decisions in politics based on facts — what a shock," said Schmidt. "And the facts of climate change are not in question anymore. Everyone understands climate change is occurring and the people who oppose it are really hurting our children and our grandchildren and making the world a much worse place. And so we should not be aligned with such people — they're just, they're just literally lying."
Google said it will not be renewing its ALEC membership at the end of the year.
ALEC's opposition to climate change policy has taken a number of forms. It's challenged further government regulations on coal-fired power plants, fought renewables, backed approval of the Keystone XL pipeline and has cast doubt on the scientific research surrounding climate change. The organization is underwritten in part by Exxon Mobil, Koch Industries, Duke Energy and Peabody Energy.
"It is unfortunate to learn Google has ended its membership in the American Legislative Exchange Council as a result of public pressure from left-leaning individuals and organizations who intentionally confuse free market policy perspectives for climate change denial," said ALEC chief executive Lisa Nelson. "ALEC believes in freedom of speech and opinion. Google is an important voice on these and many other issues, and we will miss their perspective in our discussions."
Google isn't the first to turn its back on ALEC. In August, Microsoft told climate change activists that it was dropping its support because ALEC's stance on climate change and several other issues "conflicted directly with Microsoft's values." ALEC's Communications and Technology Task Force, of which Google and Microsoft were a part, has developed proposals that may have proved enticing to tech companies. Its approach to online privacy, for instance, would impose a warrant requirement on law enforcement officers looking to obtain a suspect's geolocation information.
It's unclear why Google began giving to ALEC in the first place, nor is it clear how much it contributed to the group; a spokeswoman for Google declined to comment.