No DoubleClick Recusals At FTC
FTC chair Deborah Platt Majoras isn’t the only commissioner with a matrimonial connection at the Jones Day law firm, but neither she nor William Kovacic will recuse themselves from the Google/DoubleClick antitrust review.
We have covered the bizarre saga of Jones Day and the request for recusal from two privacy advocacy organizations this week. Today’s episode finds that two commissioners, not one, have ties to Jones Day by virtue of their wedding vows.
John Majoras, husband of Deborah, and Kathryn Fenton, wife of Kovacic, both hold non-equity partnership status at Jones Day. In today’s joint FTC commissioner statement, both Deborah Majoras and Kovacic cited that status of their spouses as why they will not recuse themselves.
The Center for Digital Democracy and the Electronic Privacy Information Center responded to the FTC announcement with a joint statement. In that statement, the two groups noted Majoras’ attestation that since January 1, 2006, procedures have been in place to note whether Jones Day is involved with a party or a third party with business before the FTC.
By Majoras’ reckoning, she only became aware of Jones Day and DoubleClick being involved together on December 11, 2007. However, CDD and EPIC noted, based on Jones Day’s website documents, the relationship with DoubleClick began on or before November 9th, 2007.
We can go this example one better. Jones Day was certainly aware of DoubleClick in May 2000, when the firm’s Robert Hamilton and Jennifer Gehrlein wrote a Technology Commentary on DoubleClick and privacy.
The document does not state whether or not Jones Day had a formal relationship with DoubleClick at that time. We mention this only to note that Jones Day has purged this well-written document from their website, as well as mentions of DoubleClick as a client in their representation lists, and in the biographies of five attorneys who had been listed as DoubleClick counsel.
But the oddest part of the DoubleClick, Jones Day, and FTC story comes from DoubleClick itself. A DoubleClick spokesperson contacted WebProNews by email, and subsequently other media outlets, to tell us "Jones Day has been engaged primarily with respect to European and other non-U.S. jurisdictions."
The statement further averred that Jones Day has never appeared before the FTC on DoubleClick’s behalf. That’s a specific statement, and does not address what Jones Day itself said it has done for the company: "Antitrust counsel in the $3.1 billion acquisition of DoubleClick by Google Inc."
Two DC attorneys, two in Brussels, one in Sydney, all with the same statement, one that Jones Day has fully removed from its website.
The contradictory statements coming from the FTC’s spokespersons, two of whom told two separate media outlets they knew Jones Day represented DoubleClick before the European Commission, and the statements by Deborah Majoras and Kovacic about refusing to recuse themselves from a case where the firm in question would have the casual web searcher believe does not have DoubleClick among their clientele, make little sense.
It’s like catching little kids who look guilty about something, but no one’s sure exactly what they have done, and they all have different stories. Yet we would be the ones to get in trouble if we paddled the truth out of the little darlings.