A year-long investigation by NBC Bay Area has revealed that Google executives bagged millions of dollars in taxpayer-funded fuel to fly their private aircraft.
A Google-owned company, H211, purchased $7,891,175.35 in jet fuel at rates two to four and a half times cheaper than market rates due to a special arrangement between the tech giant, NASA, and the Department of Defense. H211 also pays no property taxes on its airplanes housed at Moffett Field, an arrangement dating back to 2007 that has resulted in the loss of up to $500,000 in tax revenue per plane per year.
Consumer Watchdog President and Chairman Jamie Court says the crony deal “may have been the greatest sweetheart deal in the history of NASA.”
Senator Charles Grassley (R-IA) says giving Google billionaires taxpayer-funded fuel is outrageous.
“We want to get to the bottom of it,” said Grassley. “What bothers me the most: what’s the justification for it? It implies that there is favoritism going on. That would be wrong. And it implies that there’s a waste of taxpayers’ money.”
Not all lawmakers are as outraged as Grassley. Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-CA) originally told NBC Bay Area that Google’s partnership with NASA’s Alpha Jet Atmospheric eXperiment (AJAX) “is something that is celebrated in my congressional district. This is not a favor in any way shape or form.” Eshoo’s staffers later emailed NBC Bay Area and said “if it’s found that the federal government was short-changed, H211 should make good on the difference.”
The Defense Department says that as of August 31 it has decided to no longer sell jet fuel to H211.