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Is PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel influencing Missouri AG Josh Hawley’s Google probe?

Google critic and PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel (above) donated $300,000 to the attorney general campaign of Josh Hawley, who has launched an investigation into Google.
Google critic and PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel (above) donated $300,000 to the attorney general campaign of Josh Hawley, who has launched an investigation into Google. Photo illustration by Leah Becerra

Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley’s office would not directly answer Wednesday when asked whether his investigation into Google had any connection to campaign donations from billionaire Peter Thiel, a high-profile critic of the company.

Thiel, a co-founder of PayPal and early Facebook investor, donated $300,000 to Hawley’s campaign for attorney general in 2015 and 2016, a fact first noted by Bloomberg.

Thiel, who funded Hulk Hogan’s successful lawsuit against Gawker, has called Google a monopoly in the past. Hawley, a Republican who is running for U.S. Senate, launched an investigation Monday to determine whether Google has violated the state’s anti-trust and consumer protection laws.

Asked about Bloomberg’s drawing connections between the donation and the investigation, Hawley’s office provided a general statement about the probe without directly addressing a question about Thiel.

“General Hawley’s job is to protect the interests of the people of Missouri and no company or organization is exempt from that if they are violating anti-trust laws or violating people’s privacy,” Loree Anne Paradise, Hawley’s spokeswoman, said in an email.

“Our office is investigating Google because we refuse to allow industry giants to exploit and jeopardize Missouri consumers and businesses.”

Thiel previously donated to Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, who brought an anti-trust action against Google as Texas attorney general in 2010.

Bryan Lowry: 816-234-4077, @BryanLowry3

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