Google, HP, eBay And Yahoo Fund Group Behind Pro-Death Penalty Attack Ads


California politics blog Calitics has unearthed some interesting data about the $1 million in funding behind the recent round of television ads against Democratic attorney general candidate Kamala Harris. Digging deeper into the contribution history of the Republican State Leadership Committee, the Karl Rove led group behind the ad campaign, reveals contributions from four top Silicon Valley tech firms.

The ads attack Harris on her opposition to the death penalty (which most Californians are in favor of) but it’s hard to imagine Google, HP, eBay and Yahoo taking a stance so out of step with the beliefs of many of their executives and employees.

The Huffington Post provides a more thorough explanation of the motivations behind the unprecedented corporate involvement in next Tuesday’s attorney general race — “State attorneys general are increasingly at the front lines of major political issues that affect big-business bottom lines” including those in the tech industry.

The last time Harris and the tech sector sparred was during the Democratic AG primary, where her campaign launched an offensive against former Facebook executive Chris Kelly for spearheading the Facebook “Instant Personalization” program which included ads that ended with the brusque statement, “Chris Kelly released your private information.”

As both Net Neutrality and Internet Privacy continue to be major political issues, with both Facebook and Google dropping cash on California lobbying efforts, the big four are trying to ensure that the candidate that will go easiest on them wins.

Harris is currently trailing in the polls against Republican Steve Cooley, and her campaign has come out against the Republican State Leadership Committee for not disclosing its top financial contributors within the ad itself.

A Google representative responded to our inquiries about the search company’s involvement, stating that it was dismayed by the allocation of its contribution.

“Google gives to campaign committees of both parties to help support their campaign activities at the national level. The RSLC is one of those groups. We were not consulted about this ad or any other particular ad the RSLC has paid for, and are disappointed to learn the committee chose to spend their funds in this manner.”

HP released their official statement:

“HP contributes equally to both Republican and Democratic campaign committees. HP has no involvement in the campaign’s strategy and tactics and was not consulted on the ad.”

And so did Yahoo:

“Yahoo! pays membership contributions to the RSLC and its Democratic counterpart, and takes part in a range of issue conferences and other activities that these organizations host year round. We are not consulted on the groups’ ad campaigns.”

eBay has not yet gotten back to us.