Google Reveals A Powerful Tool Hack of 2024

Google Reveals A Powerful Tool Hack of 2024

In late 2019, Joshua Wright, the tech industry’s go-to fixer, was called into his boss’s office and asked a question that ultimately led to his downfall.

Was he sleeping with one of his younger associates?

There were ramifications for Wright and other people as well. For a considerable amount of time the Silicon Valley-based legal firm Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati has protected Google Qualcomm, and other major corporations against unwarranted regulation. Wright was the company’s greatest asset.

As a professor of law he rose to prominence in the tech industry despite being relatively unknown. He used his positions in government and academia to protect wealthy clients. Wright resisted antitrust authorities for almost ten years while the nation’s leading tech firms accumulated financial might unseen since Standard Oil, AT&T, and other titans ruled their respective sectors in the 20th century.

During this time, Wright worked for the Federal Trade Commission for two years as a regulator. Through his consultancy firm and his efforts at the FTC, Google, Facebook, and Qualcomm benefited. The corporations generously donated large sums of money to support his academic position at George Mason University and these gifts continued throughout his tenure in government.

It was all at risk when Wright’s office romance came up.

Wright refuted the relationship. Lindsey Edwards, a Wilson Sonsini associate, was questioned by a law firm investigator and admitted to having a sexual relationship with Wright that lasted for years It started while Wright was a law professor at George Mason University and Edwards was a 24-year-old student there.

According to The Wall Street the falsehood started to reveal the inner workings of a well-known philanderer showing how Wright circumvented rules regarding conflicts of interest in order to further his financial and romantic goals.

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The Hidden Life of Google’s Secret Weapon© Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

During his tenure on the FTC from 2013 to 2015, Wright managed to restrict the use of a potentially formidable antitrust weapon, which helped companies that had given him or the university millions of dollars in the years before to, during, and following his appointment,

Without reporting the links, he placed love partners at the FTC, Justice Department, and law firms using his connections with executives, public servants, and the Trump administration.

Despite losing his seat at Wilson Sonsini as a result of his denial of the affair, Wright’s career suffered three more years before it fully recovered. He lost both his university position and his marriage as a result of allegations regarding his extramarital affairs with law school students.

The tech businesses that helped him build a successful career were the last to let him go and only did so after the accusations were made public.

Justice Department attorney Brandy Wagstaff stated You would have to be willfully ignorant or blind to not know that something was happening. In 2006 Wagstaff stated, that Wright one of her first-year teachers had a sexual connection with her when she was a law student.

Wright, who has maintained his innocence, declined to provide a statement for this story. His attorney acknowledged that several things were incorrect, but he would not specify what. “We remain confident that the truth will prevail, leading to Mr. Wright’s complete vindication in court,” a spokeswoman for Binnall Law Group, Wright’s legal representation, stated.

This story is based on interviews with numerous former law students, attorneys, and acquaintances of Wright; court documents; divorce records; emails obtained through public records requests from George Mason University and the Federal Trade Commission; papers filed by Wright for his Senate confirmation hearing; and other public records.

The 47-year-old Wright was raised as the youngest kid in a middle-class San Diego home. He was a standout basketball player in high school, and his career path led him to the FTC, UCLA, and George Mason University. His meticulous and detached reading of antitrust rules gained him a great reputation among conservative lawmakers and scholars.

William Kovacic, who was on the FTC from 2006 to 2011, said of him “He had it all.” “He was an accomplished writer and speaker, bilingual in law and economics, and had a remarkable ability to simplify difficult ideas into understandable ones.”

Wright received more than $2 million year from Google, Facebook, Walmart, and other companies thanks to his talents. Wright was paid $600,000 annually by Amazon, more than any of its lobbyists. His university pay topped $440,000 a year.

His pro-business antitrust stance was influential among Washington authorities for many years. However the Journal discovered that he frequently withheld money from Google, Amazon, Qualcomm and other clients from academic publications, blogs, open letters, and congressional testimony that favored the companies—disclosures that may have cast doubt on the objectivity of his findings and analysis.

According to court records, a number of Wright’s former law students claimed last summer that he pressured them for sex using his authority as a lecturer and then as a supervisor. They alleged Wright pursued them either during or after their time in his contracts class. First-year students at the public Antonin Scalia Law School at George Mason University in Arlington, Virginia, must take the course.

Following a Title IX sexual harassment complaint submitted by one of Wright’s former students in December 2021 the school retained a law firm to look into allegations of sexual misconduct. In June 2022, the investigator informed Google and Facebook’s senior antitrust lawyers about the allegation. Wright left the institution in July 2023, but he continued to consult for the companies.

Several of Wright’s former students shared their experiences after he tweeted about his leaving. His clientele was dispersed with Google and Facebook among them. A Google representative stated, We immediately severed ties upon learning the details of the allegations.

In August, Wright sued two of the women for defamation, claiming they destroyed his reputation and consulting firm and demanded $108 million in damages. Wright acknowledged the extramarital affairs but denied any culpability, portraying his accusers as betrayed lovers.

“A love triangle is at issue here,” his lawsuit stated. “During the course of the last ten years, the defendants both pursued Mr. Wright at different times, engaged in consensual adult relationships with him, and experienced heartbreak upon the termination of those relationships due to their intense feelings for him.”

According to court documents, some of Wright’s former students claimed they had relationships with him for years, taking advantage of his political and professional connections, but feeling confined by his threat to ruin their careers if they refused to comply with his sexual demands.

Wright said in his defamation lawsuit that Angela Landry, a lawyer and one of the women he has sued referred to him as the Harvey Weinstein of the antitrust bar.

Due to ongoing litigation, a spokesman for George Mason University declined to comment. Wright sued the institution last year on grounds of federal discrimination.

Numbers man

FTC officials expressed interest in pursuing antitrust proceedings against businesses using an unproven authority found in the Federal Trade Commission Act of 1914 after President Obama entered office in 2009 The statute made it possible for the FTC and the Justice Department’s antitrust regulators to look into businesses that might be using dishonest or unfair business practices.

In one of the government’s earliest cases, Wright left his imprint.

In June 2009, the consumer products business Church & Dwight became the subject of an FTC inquiry. The government charged the corporation of taking advantage of the success of its products, such as Arm & Hammer detergent, to secure prominent placement for its Trojan-brand condoms on retailer shelves. The FTC said that the behaviour harmed competitors and customers.

Wright created statistical studies and economic reports while employed for a Boston-based consulting firm. His investigation provided Church & Dwight’s attorneys with proof that the company’s actions did not hurt customers by raising costs or reducing options.

Wright discovered his magic bullet—the assertion of indisputable facts and analysis—after the FTC lost in court. Few judges or officials were willing or able to attempt to refute his work. At the nexus of law and commerce antitrust consultancy formed a specialized niche in which Wright established himself as a preeminent authority.

In May 2009, he got an email from a Google executive in Washington asking for assistance. The FTC’s goal was to ascertain whether the company’s search and advertising divisions had broken any antitrust laws.

Adam Kovacevich senior manager of issues and policy communications at the time, stated, I thought it would be good to reach out, as I’ve heard your name a lot recently.We’ve also been attempting to communicate with individuals about Google’s strategy for competing more effectively, and we’d love to talk with you.

Wright proposed that Google fund his studies on antitrust laws. He informed Kovacevich that Google would benefit financially from making a gift, “given the otherwise unfriendly antitrust environment that is emerging.” The business concurred.

The Harvard Journal of Law & Public Policy published an article by Wright and a co-author titled “Google and the Limits of Antitrust: The Case Against the Antitrust Case Against Google” in March 2010 It was determined that there was no proof Google broke any laws.

The letter which mentioned Google’s financial support, claimed that filing a lawsuit against the business would chill the innovation and competition currently providing immense benefits to consumers.

Before it was published, Wright sent Google a copy of a later work and requested feedback. In response, a Google attorney said in March 2011, “I love this paper, you really nail some excellent points.” “I believe I said “yeah!” aloud multiple times as I read it.”

Wright released four academic papers, a constant stream of blogs and tweets, and more during the course of the FTC’s inquiry of Google which lasted for around two years. They all had the same opinion, which was that the FTC’s case was erroneous and unlikely to succeed in court. Wright revealed Google financing in certain cases but not in others.

Among the people who followed Wright’s research papers and blogs were representatives of the FTC. Lawyers who would assist in determining whether to file an antitrust complaint against Google were among the agency’s close readers. According to correspondence between Wright and the company what they read in certain blogs originated directly from the business.

Kovacevich emailed Wright after he responded to a Google critic in one of his postings. He said to Wright, “I appreciate you taking the time to fight the good fight this week.”

A few days later, on October 11, 2011, Wright received an email praising him for taking down the critique from the FTC Bureau of Economics: “Very nice work.” That guy is a fool, man.

Wright sent the email to Google’s Kovacevich.

The following day, Kovacevich wrote to Wright, “Also encouraging that they’re actually paying attention to the outside debate.”

Wright said, “Yes.” “There’s no doubt they’re listening.”

Two days later, Wright’s findings was published by the Law and Economics Center at George Mason University thanks to a $180,000 donation from Google.

Google hired Wright to assist in leading a group of former FTC officials antitrust specialists, and legal professors as the FTC inquiry gained momentum.

They conversed with reporters and published opinion pieces and scholarly studies. Convincing officials that the government lacked a valid case was their aim.

The team received payment from the business either directly or through employer contributions. Wright and the others however omitted to mention that they were employed by Google.

Project Eagle was the code name given to the effort by Google.

Google representatives contacted Wright a few days before to the announcement of the FTC’s antitrust probe in June 2011. In an effort to expose gaps in the agency’s legal doctrines, he consented to write an article for a Silicon Valley media source as well as two blog entries.

Kovacevich sent Project Eagle participants an email in January 2012 asking them to respond to a Google critic’s blog post. Is there any way for you guys to post something on this? he said. If so, he continued, shorter and faster. Therefore, it immediately enters news cycles.

In a few hours Wright prepared a response.

David Goldman, a reporter for CNNMoney, sent Wright an email the same week asking for his thoughts on the FTC probe. Wright said to Goldman, “I think any antitrust enforcer would have a very difficult time proving that case.”

“I told him to reach out,” Kovacevich subsequently told Wright.

Sen. Mike Lee of Utah, the ranking Republican on the Senate antitrust committee, was one of Wright’s connections. In February 2012, Wright sent Kovacevich an email saying, “Good news is almost nearly everyone on his staff for that committee is a former or current student of mine.”

In late 2012, FTC Chair Jon Leibowitz decided to settle the Google investigation. He couldn’t muster a majority on the FTC to pursue a lawsuit against the company.

Hands off

The top Republican senator from Kentucky, Sen. Mitch McConnell, wanted a competent conservative on the FTC, so his office recommended Wright to the Obama administration. Wright was nominated by the president in September 2012.

Wright was able to link his time as a student at the University of California, San Diego to his experiences at the FTC. He worked as a summer intern at the agency’s Washington D.C. limestone and granite facility in 1997 when he was twenty years old.

Two statues of strong people straining to control a horse stand guard at the entrance. Man Controlling Trade a piece of art from the New Deal era is supposed to represent the goal of the federal government which is to shield citizens from unbridled corporate power.

George Cary Wright’s uncle was the deputy director of the FTC Bureau of Competition at the time of the internship The bureau examines prospective mergers in light of antitrust rules.

Wright later claimed to have copied his uncle’s career from girlfriends. After leaving the FTC, Cary became a successful lawyer who assisted in getting regulatory approval for significant corporate mergers.

Wright attended UCLA after graduating, where his uncle studied law. Wright took things a step further and obtained a Ph.D. in economics in addition to a law degree.

He started his career as a professor in 2004 at the law department of George Mason University, which supported free markets and opposed intervention by the government. Wright was the first scholar-in-residence of the FTC, appointed in 2007.

Wright became the focal point of the country’s antitrust efforts with the president’s selection. In order to be ready for his Senate confirmation hearing, he prepared entire fall of 2012. According to school records, Google gave $207,000 in three donations to the university’s Law and Economics Center during that period.

Wright revealed at the Senate hearing that he has provided economic and antitrust advisory services to over a dozen trade associations, corporations, and economic consulting businesses, including AT&T, Microsoft, Google, and Express Scripts.

In response to inquiries from Democratic state senator Maria Cantwell of Washington, Wright promised to abstain from FTC proceedings concerning Google for a period of two years.

On New Year’s Day of 2013 the Senate confirmed Wright. The FTC and Google reached a settlement in the antitrust dispute a few days before he took office.

He employed multiple George Mason University students at the agency. One of them was Landry who started an affair with Wright in 2010 while she was a law student. Additionally he secured positions for students such as Edwards, who went on to find love with another person.

Wright frequently opposed FTC antitrust actions and held a critical view of government interference. The government believed Qualcomm was using its monopoly on mobile chips to force Apple and other manufacturers of smartphones to pay exorbitant fees in order to obtain Qualcomm’s 5G patents.

Despite Wright’s vote to not pursue the issue, the investigation was carried out.

A number of businesses that Wright supported with his vote on the FTC, such as Google and Qualcomm, made donations to the George Mason University Law and Economics Center. Wright was not obliged to record the contributions, and there are no laws that forbid them.

The corporate donors’ identities are disclosed by the center, but the contribution amounts remain undisclosed. According to academic records that the Journal was able to access, Google donated $200,000 to the institute in Wright’s inaugural year on the FTC.

Wright co-wrote an article in November 2014 that supported the pharmaceutical company that was later renamed Allergan and was the subject of an FTC case from 2009.

The corporation was accused by the government of using anticompetitive practices to prevent a competitor’s testosterone medicine from being sold. A grant was provided to the university’s Law and Economics Center in 2015 by the Allergan foundation.

Wright described what he accomplished that year as one of “the most fulfilling experiences of my career.

He had long assisted businesses in fending off accusations of unfair or dishonest business practices from the FTC. Because the authority did not specify what constituted unfair practice Wright thought that it granted the agency unlimited power.

He stated that businesses should receive “guidance about what conduct is lawful and what conduct is unlawful” from the FTC.

Wright was able to convince the Democratic majority on the FTC to agree with him in August 2015, when the agency’s antitrust jurisdiction was reduced and the basis for government actions against unfair business practices were limited and clarified.

After a span of four days, Wright declared his resignation. Out of a six-year mandate, he had completed two years.

Wright started working at Wilson Sonsini in early 2016 and was paid $1.5 million annually.

About two blocks from the White House, on K Street, in the center of Washington’s lobbying district, the legal firm had offices in a glass-and-concrete building.

Just lunch

Wright’s name began to emerge as a contender for the position of head of the Justice Department’s antitrust section following Donald Trump’s victory in the 2016 presidential contest. Even though he was passed over for the position, he oversaw the FTC’s transition team and recommended candidates for senior antitrust positions.

Wright has assisted numerous past students in obtaining internships or positions with the FTC, Justice Department, and legal firms throughout the years. based on correspondence, court records, and other records.

A nonprofit organization called Tech Transparency Project conducted an investigation and found that between 2010 and 2020, George Mason University law students engaged in at least 50 FTC internships. According to the research, that was more students than Yale, Harvard, or Stanford colleges combined.

Abbott “Tad” Lipsky and Alan Devlin, two men from Washington’s elite antitrust legal community were chosen by the acting FTC chair appointed by Trump, to be the director and deputy director of the FTC’s Bureau of Competition.

Wright had an opening for one of his Wilson Sonsini clients because of the appointments.

The FTC decided to prosecute Qualcomm three days before Obama was set to leave office for allegedly using its dominance in the chip business to secure licensing deals for Apple iPhones and other mobile devices. As an FTC member, Wright had voted against taking the case further, and a federal conflict-of-interest statute prevented him from representing Qualcomm.

Nevertheless, Wright sent Lipsky a lunch invitation via email at his personal address. On May 5 2017, they got together at BLT Steak in Washington. According to emails Wright informed him that Qualcomm had recruited him. Wright pushed Lipsky and the FTC to dismiss their action against Qualcomm and pursue a settlement both during the lunch and in a follow-up email.

Wright suggested via email that we get together for a preliminary relatively informal chat as a first step to Lipsky and Devlin the next week.

A few days later Wright’s invitation was brought up at an FTC meeting. Is Wright authorized to represent Qualcomm in this case? inquired one official The FTC Inspector General’s Office was notified of Wright’s involvement and launched an inquiry.

According to an agency investigation, Wright “initially denied participating” in talks about a potential settlement when the inspector general contacted him. The FTC investigator was informed by Wright, “Maybe they are confused on that?” Wright later admitted to being involved.

After coming to the conclusion that Wright had broken a federal law pertaining to prohibitions on conflicts of interest, the office suggested that Wright be prosecuted. The case was not pursued by the Justice Department. After a few months, Lipsky and Devlin left the FTC.

Later, Wright became executive director of the Global Antitrust Institute at George Mason University, where Lipsky accepted a position.

Read related – How Apple Fell Behind in the AI Arms Race

Qualcomm required Wright’s assistance with another issue. An unsolicited and undesired bid of $105 billion was made by Broadcom, a semiconductor manufacturer based in Singapore, to acquire Qualcomm on November 6, 2017. Wright suggested in a letter to Qualcomm the next day that the corporation give the institute $2.9 million. The business followed suit.

The donation was planned, according to Qualcomm’s statement from last month, even before Broadcom made its proposed merger public.

Any partnership between Qualcomm and Broadcom “faces significant antitrust risks,” according to a letter signed in February 2018 by Wright and other antitrust specialists. The following month, President Trump declared his disapproval, citing worries about national security. The transaction was dead a few days later.

Qualcomm also escaped the FTC’s antitrust investigation. After a court in Northern California sided with the FTC in 2019, Wright responded with an academic paper that criticized the decision. The research paper said Wright had advised Qualcomm but received no financial support from the company for writing the critique. A federal appeals court eventually reversed the decision, giving Qualcomm—and Wright—another victory.

In the summer of 2019, Wright’s wife, Anhvinh Wright, stumbled across a travel receipt with the name Lindsey Edwards.

She had suspected an affair but nothing close to the truth.


wsj.com and msn & google news

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