Former Google CEO and chairman Eric Schmidt says a Politico report claiming that his foundation “indirectly paid” the salaries of two White House science employees is “largely false.”
“When you work legally and fairly [the government]all you do is be criticized, “Schmidt told CNBC Make It in an exclusive interview Tuesday.
Schmidt, who ran Google from 2001 to 2011, is the 66th richest person in the world with a net worth of $ 23.7 billion, according to Forbes. In the interview, he noted that his career with the federal government is extensive: he was a member of the President’s Advisory Board on Science and Technology from 2009 to 2017 under President Barack Obama, and spent five years on the Innovation Advisory Board. of the United States Department of Defense. and served as chairman of the National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence in 2018.
“You want people like me to do that,” he said.
The Politico report, published on Monday, stated that Schmidt Futures, a Schmidt non-profit organization, influenced the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) by temporarily paying the salaries of two employees of the OSTP. The White House office is responsible for developing and implementing science and technology-related policies and budgets, and advises the president on similar national and international issues.
Schmidt denied the report, but did not specify exactly what was wrong. He said the criticism was a good example of why well-meaning people often do not want to work with government entities. “It’s not worth being mistreated,” he said. “And in this case, the abuse is wrong, and we will fix it. »
According to the report, Schmidt Futures indirectly paid the salary of the current head of the OSTP, Marc Aidinoff, for six weeks. In addition, according to the report, Schmidt Futures Innovation Director Tom Kalil remained on Schmidt’s payroll for four months while apparently working as an unpaid consultant in the science office.
“Schmidt has long sought to influence federal science policy, which goes back to his close ties to the Obama administration. Politico wrote, adding that some of Schmidt’s financial interests, such as the development of intelligence artificial and 5G technologies, overlap with OSTP responsibilities.
Politico sent the following statement to CNBC:
“This is a deeply told story by Alex Thompson that was based, in part, on persistent ethical concerns raised by officials in the Office of Science and Technology Policy. Mr. Schmidt was contacted prior to publication and was gave the opportunity to comment, as did Schmidt Futures. We are following the reports. ”
OSTP did not immediately respond to CNBC’s request for Make It comments, but an OSTP spokesman defended Politico’s office policies in a lengthy statement.
“You’re trying to tell a capture story of the agency, that philanthropy influences political outcomes,” the spokesman said. “And yet the OSTP has an aggressive agenda to protect the civil rights of all Americans affected by algorithmic discrimination in the use of artificial intelligence and automated systems, it is working across the government to collect data. to help ensure that the government provides services in a fairer way and assesses the damage to mental health caused by social media platforms.We are proud to be defined by our work.
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