Yelp Adds Federal PAC To Lobbying Effort

Photograph by Scott Eells/Bloomberg

The Yelp Inc. logo in a restaurant in New York City.

Updated 12:45 p.m.

Yelp Inc. has formed a federal political action committee, which will allow the San Francisco-based social networking and local-search company to make campaign contributions to preferred candidates for Congress.

The PAC, called Yelp Inc. Political Action Committee, was organized Dec. 31, according to Federal Election Commission documents.

Yelp’s PAC comes not long after the company hired its first Washington lobbyist in November, according to a Dec. 23 filing with House and Senate officials. He is Laurent Crenshaw, a former legislative director for Rep. Darrell Issa, the California Republican who leads the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.

Yelp, which has a market value of about $4.7 billion, lobbies on issues such as patent and copyright policy, the filing says.

The company reported lobbying on a bill (H.R. 3309) that would make filing a patent infringement suit more difficult. The House overwhelmingly passed the measure last month, with the support of technology companies that said the bill “could reduce the time they spend fighting such suits in court,” as Bloomberg’s Derek Wallbank and Susan Decker reported last month. Read the BGOV Bill Summary here.

Yelp also reported lobbying on federal anti-SLAPP legislation, referring to “strategic lawsuits against public participation.”

SLAPP alludes to the “sort of lawsuit in which businesses sue people who have posted negative comments about them online as a way to bully critics into silence,” Bloomberg Businessweek’s Joshua Brustein wrote in September.

“So-called SLAPP lawsuits aren’t very common, but Yelp has a lot riding on people writing such reviews, so it wants to encourage laws that might minimize such lawsuits,” he wrote. “This is basically a free-speech issue. Just over half the states have passed anti-SLAPP legislation, the company says, with California and Texas being most aggressive. Yelp would like every state to have such laws, and the company is also pursing federal legislation.”

Yelp spokeswoman Rachel Walker declined to comment.

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