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Schmidt Shaping US Science Policy?

An exclusive story in Politico outlines the unusual level of influence former Google CEO and multi-billionaire Eric Schmidt has had on the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy over the past year.

According to the report, based on interviews with current and former staff members and internal emails obtained by Politico, more than a dozen officials in the 140-person office have been associates of Schmidt's, including some current and former Schmidt employees.

Schmidt maintained a close relationship with Eric Lander, the former science adviser of President Joe Biden, as well as other Biden appointees; and his charity Schmidt Futures indirectly paid the salaries of two science office employees for six weeks, including that of current Chief of Staff Marc Aidnioff, now one of the most senior members of the Biden administration following Lander's resignation in February.

In addition, Schmidt Futures Chief Innovation Officer and OSTP alum Tom Kalil remained on Schmidt's payroll while working as an unpaid consultant at the science office for four months last year until he left the post following ethics complaints, Politico reports.

According to the story, the involvement of Schmidt Futures in funding positions for specific figures repeatedly raised red flags from internal White House watchdogs and sparked "significant" ethical concerns, given Schmidt's financial interests in areas overlapping with OSTP's responsibilities.

Schmidt currently sits on the boards of or is an investor in multiple technology companies, including several focused on artificial intelligence.

The article goes on to list several other instances of potential conflicts of interest arising from Schmidt's close ties to the OSTP, and delves into Schmidt's long-time efforts to influence federal science policy, dating back to the Obama administration.