Google Inc. will bring on the House Judiciary Committee antitrust counsel for the Republicans next month amid government scrutiny of the Internet giant’s proposed merger with a travel data firm.
Stewart Jeffries will join Google as Competition Policy Counsel on Feb. 7, a spokesman for the company told Main Justice on Friday. Jeffries has been the House Judiciary Committee antitrust counsel for the Republicans since 2007. He previously served as the House Judiciary constitution subcommittee counsel from 2004 to 2006, and as an associate at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP from 2000 to 2003.
“Stewart brings deep experience on competition issues and has respect from both sides of the political aisle,” said Google spokesman Adam Kovacevich. “We’re excited for him to join us.”
A House Judiciary Committee spokeswoman declined to comment to Main Justice.
The Justice Department Antitrust Division is preparing a possible court case to stop Google’s $700 million acquisition of ITA Software Inc., which creates most of the software for online flight ticket sales, The Washington Post reported earlier this month. But the DOJ has not made a decision on whether to block the merger.
The House Judiciary Committee, under Democratic control last year, had its eye on the proposed merger. The panel held a hearing in September on competition in the digital marketplace, examining Google and its proposed merger with ITA. Witnesses at the hearing expressed concern that the Internet giant was stifling competition from smaller companies.
Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas), who is now the panel’s chairman, pushed back against the critics at the time.
“Just because a company is big does not mean it is bad,” Smith said, according to The Hill. “Just because competitors complain about a practice does not mean it is anti-competitive.”
Aruna Viswanatha contributed reporting.