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lobbyist

Google has more than 5,000 employees world-wide, but only one of them works in Washington, DC as a lobbyist, according to a WSJ (sub required) piece about the technology industry’s influence — or lack thereof — in the nation’s policy circles.

Silicon Valley Internet companies are among the more poorly represented. That’s not good, given the recent move by big telecom companies like BellSouth to try to get Internet companies to pay more for the bandwidth they are using (which we mentioned here earlier: under “Why should Silicon Valley have to pay?”)

Yahoo, at least, has a political action committee, and it donated $98,500, according to the piece. However, BellSouth’s political action committee gave $726,725, according to PoliticalMoneyLine, which tracks…

political contributions, while AT&T gave $1.6 million.

eBay’s first lobbyist, Tod Cohen, showed up in 2000, and he is an example of how taking Washington seriously can help:

Mr. Cohen also informed lawmakers that their districts were home to thousands of eBay sellers — whom he likened to small-business owners — who would find it an enormous headache to have to comply with a roster of various sales-tax laws. Those relationships and that early effort helped eBay and others fight off calls for an Internet tax, says Henry Gomez, former senior vice president for corporate communications and government relations at eBay, who now heads North American operations for the company’s Skype Internet-phone unit.

Today, eBay has a four-person lobbying team in Washington and is active in the fight to keep the Internet unchanged. The issue of net neutrality, or ensuring Internet traffic isn’t blocked or slowed, “has quickly become one of the most important issues and highest priorities for eBay and Skype,” says Hani Durzy, an eBay spokesman