Ben Smith at Politico writes about a “Fact Check” from the National Labor Relations Board, responding to blog posts – including this one at Shopfloor – that objected to the NLRB running Google ads. The NLRB states:

Google Ads

It has been reported that the NLRB spent Agency funds on Google ads. An initial review indicates that the ads were provided at no charge beginning in 2008 by Google. The Agency has decided to discontinue them.

Politico’s Smith observes: “Among the curious things about this: Google, serving as volunteer labor booster in this instance, is not exactly a union shop.” No, but CEO Eric Schmidt is supportive of the White House.

If the NLRB did not pay for the ads, as asserted here, our apologies for the error.

Odd, though. Many people in law firms and business groups follow the NLRB’s activities very closely. It’s funny that no one had ever commented on the ads before, if indeed they “were provided…beginning in 2008 by Google.”

Oh, and based on our search of the NLRB site, this is the first “Fact Check” the agency has essayed. Generally speaking, it seems like a reasonable practice for government agencies to call attention to clear error, but not if it’s just another spin operation.

More …

UPDATE (12:30 p.m. Sunday): Writing at Red State, the LaborUnionReport.com raises many interesting questions about the NLRB’s sponsorship of the ads. The post is well worth reading: “Union-Controlled NRLB Suddenly Pulls Google Ads on ‘How to Start a Union’.”

Now, without a law degree (although Holiday Inn Express is like a second home), it is unknown whether a private-sector company like Google is legally allowed to provide free ads to an agency of the federal government, or whether it is permitted for an agency of the federal government to accept free services without violating a certain law (or two).  That would be something for lawyers and, perhaps, Congressional committees to decide.

However, it would be interesting to know:

  • Who wrote the ad on “How to Start a Union”
  • What the total value of the free advertising was
  • When the NLRB began accepting free advertising from Google
  • How many other agencies are getting free advertising from Google
  • Whether Google is getting any other form of recompense or favorable treatment for its free advertising
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