In a sign of its political maturation, Google Inc. has hired former Rep. Susan Molinari to head its Washington operation.
Molinari takes over for Alan Davidson, who launched the Internet giant's lobbying operation in the nation's capital in 2005. She will have a more prominent role at the company than Davidson, with the title of vice president of public policy and government relations for the Americas.
Davidson was director of public policy for the Americas, but not a company vice president.
"She's a true trailblazer and her enthusiasm for our technology and its potential to change lives will be a real asset to our team in the Americas," said David Drummond, Google's senior vice president and chief legal officer.
When Google arrived in Washington, it tapped Davidson, a policy expert at the time at the Center for Democracy and Technology, to be its face in the nation's capital.
But the company's dramatic growth has made it a target for competitors and regulators. Google's leadership now has chosen a veteran Republican lobbyist to help it deal with antitrust and privacy issues.
Molinari is a well-connected Republican with a long history in Washington, including seven years in the House of Representatives.
She arrived in 1990 at just 31 years old, taking over the New York House seat held by her father, Guy Molinari, who had left to become borough president of Staten Island.
Susan Molinari gained prominence after the GOP took control of the House in 1995. She rose into the leadership ranks of the House Republicans and gave the keynote address at the 1996 Republican National Convention.
She is married to former Rep. Bill Paxon, another New York Republican.
Molinari left Congress to become co-anchor of "CBS News Saturday Morning," but the job lasted less than a year.
She became a lobbyist, working for the Washington Group and then the firm of Bracewell & Giuliani on behalf of a host of clients, including Microsoft Corp., Verizon Communications, Time Warner, Freddie Mac, and the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network, according to lobbying records.
In 2010, Molinari started her own Washington-based lobbying firm, Susan Molinari Strategies.