Rep. Jim Jordan (R., Ohio) sparred with Google CEO Sundar Pichai Tuesday over an executive at the company emailing about how to help Democrats turn out "key" Latino votes.
Jordan pressed Pichai on the emails during a congressional hearing, citing leaked messages that show executives discussing how "we" helped Hillary Clinton in 2016. Eliana Murillo, the head of Google’s multicultural marketing department, touted her work helping liberal organizations turn out Latino voters but lamented that Clinton didn’t get a high enough share of them and lost the election.
Pichai refused to admit that this showed political bias at Google, however. He argued that the "we" Murillo used in her conversation with Google executives did not refer to the company.
"Is it fair to say the ‘we’ in both sentences refers to the company Google?" Jordan asked.
"As Google, we won't participant in any partisan efforts around any civic process," Pichai said. "So I don't think so."
Jordan pressed on whether helping organizations like Voto Latino get voters to the polls was partisan political activity, but Pichai said there was no such activity.
"We did look into it," Pichai said. "We found no evidence that there were any activity like that from Google."
In Murillo's emails, she wrote about technology Google apparently provided that helped Latinos vote.
"We even helped them create ad campaigns to promote the rides (with support from HOLA folks who rallied and volunteered their time to help)," Murillo said. "We supported Voto Latino to help them land an interview with Sen. Meza of Arizona (key state for us) to talk about the election and how to use Google search to find information about how to vote. They were a strong partner, among many in this effort."
Jordan asked whether Murillo was lying in her messages, a charge Pichai did not level but also did not deny, repeatedly saying they found "no evidence" Google did anything to turn out particular voters. The congressman argued Google could simply be a "good corporate citizen" if its attempts to turn out voters did not have a partisan intent, but discussion of "key states" and how to help Clinton indicate otherwise.
Pichai did not admit any such intent on the part of Google. Jordan was not satisfied with Pichai’s answers.
"It's interesting that [Google's] head of multicultural marketing writes an email the day after the election where she talks about 71 percent of Latino voters voted for Hillary, but that wasn't ‘enough,’ and she talks about paying for rides to the polls in 'key states' for Latino votes to get out the Latino vote in key states, and the head of the company says that's not accurate," he said.
Jordan also asked whether Murillo still works for Google, and Pichai said, "It's my understanding she does; yes, sir."