Google Hires Former GOP Rep. Susan Molinari as Chief Lobbyist

Susan Molinari, a former rising star in the Republican-led House during the 1990s, has been hired to head Google's Washington operations.

Some pundits see the choice as a smart move in hiring a moderate Republican and someone who most Democrats will not object to. Molinari, the new vice president of public policy and government relations for the Americas, will oversee all aspects of government relations and policy throughout North and South America for Google.

"The Google office in Washington has not had someone with the visibility of a former member of Congress, and with her understanding of the complexities of the legislative process," said former Sen. John Sununu in an interview with Politico. "Google is receiving a higher level of scrutiny…when you're such a large and growing company, you have to have a strong, visible, capable leader in Washington.

Part of the scrutiny Sununu is referring to involves a National Religious Broadcasters report that Google is violating free speech by giving preference to specific sites it prefers.

In March 2011, the search engine established guidelines excluding churches, faith groups and any organization that comments on religion or sexual orientation from receiving free or discounted use of the "Google for Non-profit" Web tool. Other nonprofits were allowed free and discounted use.

Google also denied The Christian Institute in England from buying an advertisement on its search engine in 2008. The reason given by company executives was that its "policy did not permit the advertisement of websites that contain 'abortion and religion-related content.'"

The Senate's Antitrust Subcommittee has requested a copy of the NRB's report and is looking into the matter.

Molinari represented the Staten Island district in New York and served seven years in Congress, rising quickly to a leadership position under former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich. However, Molinari's congressional career came to an abrupt halt when she resigned in 1997.

She cited growing discontentment among the GOP House leadership as one of the reasons for leaving before taking a broadcasting position with CBS.

However, Molinari has been politically active since leaving Congress. She helped form the Republican Unity Coalition that opposed President George W. Bush's decision to support a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage.

She has also been active in former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney's presidential campaign and has been highly critical of Gingrich's leadership while in Congress.

Molinari is married to former Congressman Bill Paxon, who also resigned from his New York seat after reports surfaced that he was involved in the efforts to oust Gingrich in 1997.