Republican AGs Sue Google, Alleging Uncompetitive Conduct With Online Ads

Google offices in Chelsea, Midtown Manhattan, New York City on Oct. 14, 2020.

Google offices in Chelsea, Midtown Manhattan, New York City on Oct. 14, 2020. John Nacion/STAR MAX/IPx 2020


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STATE AND LOCAL ROUNDUP | Vegas city council green-lights expansion of Elon Musk-backed tunnel project … City’s plan to spend relief funds on golf course upgrade draws backlash … Santa who visited with kids tests positive for Covid.

Google is the target of a lawsuit that 10 Republican state attorneys general filed Wednesday in  a Texas federal district court, alleging that the company illegally abused a monopoly it has over online advertisement technology. The suit also claims that Google brokered a deal with Facebook to limit competition for ad revenue between the two internet giants. “If the free market were a baseball game, Google positioned itself as the pitcher, the batter and the umpire,” Texas attorney general Ken Paxton, who is leading up the lawsuit, said in a video posted on Twitter. Google rejected the allegations. “Attorney General Paxton’s ad tech claims are meritless, yet he’s gone ahead in spite of all the facts. We’ve invested in state-of-the-art ad tech services that help businesses and benefit consumers,” a company spokesperson said in a statement. “We will strongly defend ourselves from his baseless claims in court.” The lawsuit is the latest in a series of actions that government regulators have taken that have put the business practices of Google and other large tech companies under scrutiny. [The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Verge]

VEGAS MUSK TUNNEL EXPANSION | The Las Vegas City Council voted unanimously on Wednesday to allow Elon Musk’s tunneling company, Boring Co., to expand a convention center transit system it is constructing into a wider network. "Zero public dollars would be going into this system," said Steve Davis, Boring Co.'s president. [Bloomberg]

RELIEF SPENDING BACKLASH | The small city of Forest Lake, Minnesota is getting blowback over plans to use about $150,000 of a $1.5 million infusion of federal coronavirus aid to build a clubhouse on a municipal golf course. Mayor Mara Bain said the building at the Castlewood Golf Course would help with social distancing. “Castlewood had unprecedented use this summer,” Bain said. "If we're able to more safely serve those residents, I think it meets the need." Blake Roberts, a member of the city's Economic Development Authority disagreed. “It's appalling, it really is," Roberts said during a meeting. "This money was earmarked from the federal government to help businesses and cities survive this pandemic, not increase city facilities and amenities.” [KSTP Eyewitness News]

BODY BAGS | California is distributing 5,000 body bags and has 60 refrigerated storage units on standby if they are needed by counties as deaths from Covid-19 mount. "This is a deadly disease, and we need to be mindful of where we are," Gov. Gavin Newsom said. [ABC News]

SANTA EXPOSURE | Officials in Ludowici, Georgia say that kids visited outside a Christmas parade with a Santa and Mrs. Claus who later tested positive for Covid-19. They are advising families with kids who spent time with the Clauses to stay home from school. [Washington Post]