Google Sponsors Conservative Conference Co-Hosted by Tea Party

Google Inc., whose chairman has served as an adviser to President Barack Obama, is a sponsor of this month’s Conservative Political Action Conference, co-hosted by the Tea Party.

Google is one of nine main sponsors, alongside the National Rifle Association and the Heritage Foundation, according to the conference’s website. Republican presidential candidates Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich are slated to speak at the three-day event, which starts in Washington on Feb. 9. Google is the only business listed among the primary sponsors.

The company says it will have a presence at both Republican and Democratic events during this year’s election season, including each party’s convention. Google also had a role in the Iowa caucus last month. The CPAC event was attractive because half the attendees are under 25 and heavy users of technology, Google said yesterday in an e-mailed statement.

“This event is a great opportunity for us to showcase and tools like Google+, which we hope will be used by every candidate and campaign,” the Mountain View, California-based company said.

The event features speakers on the other side of the political aisle from Obama, who is running for re-election this year. Google Chairman Eric Schmidt, then the company’s chief executive officer, served as an economic adviser to Obama in 2008 and urged lawmakers to approve the president’s jobs bill last year. Google’s workforce is the third-biggest corporate source of Obama’s campaign cash, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

More Lobbying

Google has played a bigger role in Washington politics over the past two years. The company doubled its lobbying spending and expanded its political action committee, which is used to give donations to candidates. Google, the world’s most popular search engine, faces scrutiny from federal regulators and U.S. lawmakers over its market power and handling of users’ privacy.

The company backed an Internet protest against Hollywood-backed anti-piracy bills in Congress last month that ultimately helped derail the legislation.

CPAC is hosted by the American Conservative Union, an organization founded in 1964, following the defeat of Barry Goldwater by President Lyndon Johnson. The group has put on CPAC in Washington since 1973.

“We’re planning hangouts with top Republicans and well respected conservative journalists at CPAC,” Google said, referring to its Hangout feature on its Google+ social network, which lets people host live video chats.