For months, the Justice Department has been in the middle of negotiating with a group of attorneys general from 48 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico — who have conducted separate investigations, hoping to form a unified complaint over the world’s largest search engine, Politico reported.
Donald Harrison, President of Global Partnerships and Corporate Development for Google, testifies via videoconference during a Judiciary Subcommittee hearing Tuesday, Sept. 15, 2020, on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
Republican attorneys general have joined both the Justice Department and a coalition of their Democratic colleagues, sources familiar with the suit told Politico.
The bipartisan group — led by Democratic attorneys general in Colorado and Iowa along with Nebraska’s Republican attorney general — expects to file an antitrust complaint challenging Google at a later date.
They had voiced their concerns about what they viewed as the Justice Department’s narrow approach to the case and believe filing separately would allow for more leverage if the Justice Department and Google negotiate a settlement they don’t approve of.
A third antitrust complaint spearheaded by the state of Texas is also likely to be filed in the coming weeks. That suit, which focuses on Google’s power in the advertising technology market, has been sullied by bribery and improper influence allegations against Texas Republican Attorney General Ken Paxton, according to Politico.
The number of states that will sign on to the Justice Department’s complaint next week is unknown, though Louisiana Republican Attorney General Jeff Landry has said he plans to join the suit.
Until now, the Google investigations have been bipartisan with prosecutors from the Justice Department and nearly every U.S. state.
Landry and attorneys general for eight other Republican-led states met with Attorney General William Barr to discuss the suit last month.
The complaint will reportedly include allegations that Google has used restrictive contracts with smartphone makers and telecom providers to ensure that its search engine is set as the default on devices that use its Android operating system.
Google’s contract with Apple is also likely to be included in the complaint.