Microsoft lobbyist Chavez heads to Google to lead cloud policy

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(Bloomberg) -- Pablo Chavez, a former aide to Senator John McCain and a veteran Washington lobbyist, is leaving Microsoft Corp. to lead Alphabet Inc.’s Google’s global public policy for cloud services.

The hire comes as Google is attempting to reshuffle its policy shop as big tech companies come under greater scrutiny in Washington for the size of their platforms and over Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. The search giant is seeking a replacement for Caroline Atkinson, who stepped aside in September. She was a former deputy national security adviser to President Barack Obama. Leslie Miller, a Google policy director based in California, is filling in on an interim basis.

A Microsoft spokeswoman said Chavez told the company in April of his plans, adding, "we wish him the best." A Google spokeswoman confirmed that Chavez, who previously worked at the company, would be returning in the cloud policy job. Chavez didn’t respond to a request for comment.

Google has been among companies, including Microsoft, Inc, International Business Machines Corp. and Oracle Corp., that are vying to win a piece of the Pentagon’s multiyear cloud services contract.

Chavez spent seven years as Google’s senior director of public policy and government affairs before heading to LinkedIn Corp. to lead its public affairs initiatives. After Microsoft Corp. purchased LinkedIn in 2016, he became general manager for U.S. public policy for Microsoft and global public policy for LinkedIn, according to his profile on the professional networking site. He previously worked as chief counsel for McCain, the Arizona Republican.

A LinkedIn spokeswoman said that Sue Duke, who has been with the company for four years, will replace Chavez as head of global policy and will be based in Dublin.

Chavez will be joining a company with several Republican operatives on its payroll, including Susan Molinari, a former Republican congresswoman from New York, who has led Google’s U.S. government relations office since 2012. After the 2016 election, Google also added Max Pappas, a former staffer to Senator Ted Cruz, the Texas Republican, as the company’s ambassador to right-leaning groups in Washington.

Some of those groups have complained that conservative viewpoints were being censored by tech platforms.

Google, Inc., and Facebook Inc. have been reorganizing their Washington offices as tech companies face increasing scrutiny from policybmakers over the way the industry handles users’ privacy and has been manipulated by bad actors.

Kevin Martin, a Republican former chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, replaced Erin Egan as Facebook’s head of U.S. public policy on an interim basis, allowing Egan to focus on privacy matters, the company said last month. Amazon cut ties in March with Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP, Washington’s biggest lobbying firm, and Squire Patton Boggs, and brought on new advisers.

--With assistance from Mark Bergen

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