Tony Romm reports at Politico:
Some of Silicon Valley's biggest tech companies are quietly funneling money to minority groups in Washington, including those affiliated with black and Hispanic lawmakers — a move that comes as the firms face growing criticism about the lack of diversity in their workforce.
The donations, known as "honorary expenses," fund events like dinners and cocktail receptions where members of Congress and federal regulators are the guests of honor. The leader of the pack is Google, which spent a record of more than $490,000 on such expenses last year — devoting most of it to minority groups like the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, according to newly filed federal ethics reports.
Apple chipped in $1.2 million for an awards gala for the Thurgood Marshall College Fund, and Uber wrote a $10,000 check to the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute, the disclosures show. It marked the first time either Apple or Uber reported any honorary expenses.
The recent uptick in these donations coincides with growing political pressure on the tech industry over diversity, as companies struggle to address complaints that their employees are largely white and male. The debate has taken root in Washington, including with members of the Congressional Black Caucus, which sent a delegation to Silicon Valley in August to demand that the industry recruit more African-Americans.