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A former Google executive who is running for the U.S. Senate is accusing the internet giant of losing its way, calling it a once-great company that’s now infected with greed.

The company’s former head of international relations, Ross LaJeunesse, said in an interview that he left Google in May 2019 after his responsibilities were scaled back in April as “punishment for my advocacy on behalf of women, people of color, LGBTQ and human rights.”

The company said Thursday that LaJeneuesse’s duties were changed as part of a reorganization of its policy team.

LaJeunesse said he was trying to establish a human rights program that could help Google make decisions about product releases and entries into different markets, but that his ideas kept getting shot down, including by Kent Walker, senior vice president of global affairs. Emails obtained by this news organization showed an exchange in which Walker told LaJeneusse he thought a formal human rights program was unnecessary.

Walker has not returned a request for comment.

Once tasked with executing Google search’s departure from China in 2010 — which the company attributed to its concern about censorship and that country’s human rights record — LaJeunesse said he realized the company had changed.

“It was a really special place,” he said, adding that Google would recruit employees with the promise that they would be joining a world-changing company. But he said that not long after Google pulled its search engine out of China, other company departments wanted to enter the Chinese market. The fast-growing company became more concerned with its quarterly earnings, he said. “It changed on me.”

William Fitzgerald, who worked as a policy analyst for LaJeneusse from 2010 to 2012 in the Google Hong Kong office and now runs his own campaign advocacy firm called the Worker Agency, said LaJeneusse “would always advocate tirelessly to make sure Google did right by its users even if that decision didn’t reap the greatest amount of profits.”

The former executive’s allegations come as Google grapples with internal strife that includes a couple of years of employee protests over various issues — including Project Dragonfly, a possible return of Google search to China, which the company abandoned after employees (and later Congress) raised concerns. Some of the company’s activist employees have since left and accused Google of retaliating against them. Recently, Google fired five employees who are alleging the company violated their right to organize.

One of those fired employees is site reliability engineer Laurence Berland.

Google “has changed for the worse — for its workers and the world — and, like many of us, Ross could not sit idly by, and was punished for it,” Berland said.

LaJeunesse published a blog post Thursday, in which he also said he expressed concern about discrimination he saw at Google. He said he saw bullying that left some young workers in tears, and that diversity exercises at the company included offensive labeling of different groups, which was also shown in emails obtained by this news organization.

The company would not comment about LaJenuesse’s specific allegations.

“Ross was offered a new position at the exact same level and compensation, which he declined to accept,” Google spokeswoman Jenn Kaiser said. “We wish Ross all the best with his political ambitions.”

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