Google hires Republican Senate aide to head lobby office

Google will have a new top lobbyist, fresh from Capitol Hill, to help the company navigate an increasingly hostile regulatory environment.
Google will have a new top lobbyist, fresh from Capitol Hill, to help the company navigate an increasingly hostile regulatory environment.
(Justin Sullivan / Getty Images)

Alphabet Inc.’s Google hired the top aide to Republican Sen. Rob Portman to head its Washington policy operation, filling a key post as the internet search giant confronts escalating regulatory threats.

Mark Isakowitz, who was Portman’s chief of staff, will be in charge of government affairs and public policy in the U.S. and Canada, according to a Google announcement Friday. He replaces Susan Molinari, who took an advisory role after resigning the position last year.

“I am very excited to join a company that is constantly innovating, creating opportunity and helping the American economy grow,” Isakowitz said in the statement. “I look forward to working with policymakers and others to help promote responsible innovation and the internet economy.”


He will report to the company’s global policy chief, Karan Bhatia, who said Isakowitz brings “serious policy knowledge, and an impressive record of bridging divides and achieving results.”

Google is grappling with escalating scrutiny from federal, congressional and state antitrust officials. The Justice Department and 50 state attorneys general are conducting broad investigations, while a House panel probing the technology sector has also zeroed in on the company.

Bhatia joined Google last year after overseeing global affairs at General Electric Co. A former deputy U.S. trade representative under President George W. Bush, Bhatia at one point circulated an empty organizational chart with his name at the top and blank boxes representing all open positions reporting to him, prompting staffers to fear for their jobs, Bloomberg reported.

Earlier in the year, he reshuffled Google’s approach to global policy and added more resources to antitrust, privacy and emerging markets in response to policymakers who are increasingly focused on issues that would affect the company’s core businesses. Molinari, a former Republican New York congresswoman, is among several top policy officials to exit. Ross LaJeunesse, Google’s global head of international relations, also departed and Adam Kovacevich, former director of public policy, announced in April he was leaving to join Lime, an electric scooter and bike company.

Portman, who is from Ohio, led the successful push to limit tech platforms’ liability protections for third-party content in cases of sex trafficking — an effort that represented one of Google’s fiercest battles in recent years, and most stinging defeats.

“Mark is a great friend and a superb leader, and I will miss his counsel that I have relied on over the past five years,” Portman said in a statement.

Isakowitz joined Portman’s office in 2014. He previously served as an outside lobbyist to Apple Inc., Oracle Corp. and several other companies, according to disclosures.