By Alexa Schwerha
- Former Google CEO Eric Schmidt helped fund over two dozen Biden administration jobs through a fellowship program for scientific and technological fields.
- One watchdog group claimed that Schmidt could be using his connections to influence the administration.
- “It is disappointing that these speculative pieces overlook the extraordinary collaboration which has resulted from broad participation in bipartisan initiatives to address fundamental challenges to U.S. competitiveness and collective prosperity,” a Schmidt spokesperson told the Daily Caller News Foundation.
Former Google CEO Eric Schmidt helped fund the salaries of more than two dozen Biden administration officials through Federation of American Scientists (FAS) fellowships, Politico reported.
Schmidt Futures, a philanthropic organization headed by Schmidt, helped fund a FAS program titled “Day One Project” which placed fellows in science and technology positions in the White House following the 2020 elections, according to Politico. The fellows have served in departments such as the White House Council of Economic Advisers, the White House Council on Environmental Quality and the Department of Energy.
“Schmidt Futures is a philanthropic initiative that is creating the largest pipeline of exceptional talent and matching it with the opportunity to serve others,” a Schmidt spokesperson told the Daily Caller News Foundation. “As one of 40+ donors to FAS, the organization is aiming to advance scientific research that benefits society. This includes supporting data scientists, connectivity for Americans, advancement in AI, organ transplants, and transforming the foster care system to name a few.”
Alex Engler, a fellow at the Brookings Institution, told Politico that Schmidt “Schmidt is clearly trying to influence [artificial intelligence] policy to a disproportionate degree[.]”
Schmidt has a record of investing in start-up companies which used AI, CNBC reported. These investments were reportedly made during his tenure as chairman of the National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence and total over 50 investments.
“We’ve seen a dramatic increase in investment toward advancing AI capacity in government and not much in limiting its harmful use,” Engler said.
The Tech Transparency Project published a report on Tuesday which claimed that Schmidt “is exploiting a little-known government program to install his allies in key roles across the federal government.” It further claimed that the program has “allowed the former Google CEO to establish a network of acolytes in positions to advance his financial interests, all with little public oversight.”
“Eric Schmidt appears to be systematically abusing this little-known set of programs to exert his influence in the federal government,” Katie Paul, the director of the Tech Transparency Project, told Politico. “The question is, on whose behalf is it? Google, where he’s still a major shareholder? Is it to advance his own portfolio of investments–artificial intelligence and bioengineering or energy? The public has a right to know who is paying their public servants and why.”
Schmidt’s spokesperson, however, told the DCNF that claims questioning Schmidt’s financial input could be misleading.
“While it is appropriate to review the relationship between the public and private sectors to ensure compliance and ethics oversight, there are people with the expertise and experience to make monumental change and advance our country, and they should have the opportunity to work across sectors to maintain our competitive advantage for public benefit,” the spokesperson said. “It is sad that certain folks seem to disregard evidence countering a predetermined narrative and be focused primarily on rehashing so many of the same tired, inaccurate, mostly anonymous, demonstrably false or highly misleading storylines, even in the face of clear evidence of compliance. It is disappointing that these speculative pieces overlook the extraordinary collaboration which has resulted from broad participation in bipartisan initiatives to address fundamental challenges to U.S. competitiveness and collective prosperity.”
A White House spokesperson denied claims that the funds could be interpreted as influence, telling Politico that “[n]either Eric Schmidt nor the Federation of American Scientists exert influence on policy matters.”
“We enacted the most stringent ethics guidelines of any administration in history to ensure our policy processes are free from undue influence,” the spokesperson said.
A Schmidt Futures spokesperson downplayed the group’s influence in the administration by stating that the group funds less than 30% of the project.
The White House and FAS did not immediately respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.