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President Obama's Cozy Relationship with Google


If they’re not stumping for him and serving as an unofficial economic advisor during the 2008 campaign or footing the bill for his swearing-in ceremony, they’re accommodating the 2012 campaign with special deals involving their new advertising product.

Google denied Wednesday that it gave President Barack Obama‘s re-election campaign special access to a new advertising program, something a sales representative from the search and advertising giant had claimed in an email to customers.

The new ad program would charge clients for every email address (or other piece of user data) they collect. The program is attractive to campaigns eager for that information, so when a staffer at the National Republican Senatorial Committee saw what appeared to be an Obama ad built on this technology on the RealClearPolitics website last month, she emailed a Google sales rep to ask about creating a similar ad campaign for Republicans.


The saleswoman, Sirene Abou-Chakra, replied by suggesting that Obama had a special deal.

“This is a pre-alpha product that is being released to a select few clients,” she wrote in an email, referring to the first stage of a product’s roll-out. “I’d be happy to get you into the beta if you’re interested.”

A similar email went out to at least one other Republican digital media firm, a Republican source said.

“It certainly raises some red flags that the Obama campaign appears to have been given special access to a new online advertising product,” said NRSC communications director Brian Walsh in response to an inquiry from POLITICO.


“This is an experiment and while we generally do not comment on those experiments we can tell you that we have not sold a single CPL [cost-per-lead] ad unit to any political candidates or committees,” said [Google spokesman] Parrillo.

Just an innocent test or more evidence of a pattern of preferential treatment? It would be one thing if it was private donations but the implied preference now involves selective use of their product, thus, moving the preferential treatment into a different realm of consideration.


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