Google to Face Off With Ken Starr in Texas Antitrust Lawsuit


Texas plans to hire Ken Starr, the former independent counsel in the investigation that led to President Bill Clinton’s impeachment, to represent the state in an antitrust lawsuit against Alphabet Inc.’s Google, according to a person familiar with the matter.

The state plans to hire Starr’s firm, the Lanier Law Firm, and Keller Lenkner LLC if it files a lawsuit stemming from its investigation into the company’s role in the online ad market, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said Tuesday in a statement.

Starr, who also served on President Donald Trump’s impeachment defense team, would help lead the Texas trial team alongside firm founder Mark Lanier, said the person, who asked not to be named discussing law enforcement investigations. The suit could come within weeks.

Starr, who has also served as a U.S. Court of Appeals judge in Washington and as U.S. solicitor general, didn’t immediately respond to an after-hours request for comment.

Texas, which has been investigating Google for more than a year, is also part of the U.S. Justice Department’s October complaint against the company over its alleged violation of antitrust laws in its agreements to distribute its flagship search engine.

Another group of states including Colorado, Iowa and Nebraska have said they would seek to join the U.S. case. They are expected to file a case against Google as soon as this week.

In 2019, Paxton announced an inquiry by 50 attorneys general into the company’s adtech operations. He initially served as its leader, although the investigations split into different focus areas.

Paxton, who unsuccessfully sought to help Trump overturn his election loss this month with a lawsuit at the Supreme Court, has been accused by senior aides of potential crimes including bribery, which he denies. Starr resigned as president of Baylor University in 2016 amid accusations of mishandling of on-campus sexual assault allegations.

Earlier this month, Keller Lenkner filed a class action suit against Facebook Inc., which also became the subject of state and federal antitrust complaints last week.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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