By JAMES GILL, Associated Press Uber is facing criticism from both Democrats and Republicans over its links to a billionaire who has deep ties to Russia.
The company, which is seeking approval to expand in New York and Florida, has also been criticized by several Democratic lawmakers for allegedly paying former officials to undermine political campaigns of Democratic candidates.
It has denied paying officials who worked for President Donald Trump.
In an email, Uber CEO Travis Kalanick said the company was fully transparent and fully independent of any influence by any government.
“While we don’t have a specific timeline for when we’ll expand our operations in the US, our mission is to serve the needs of drivers, riders and passengers, regardless of who is in power in Washington,” Kalanicks email said.
The email came a day after New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman announced his office was investigating allegations that Uber had paid Russian officials more than $200,000 to help the company win lucrative government contracts in exchange for campaign donations.
Uber declined to comment on the charges.
Democratic U.S. Senator Bob Casey, a Democrat from Pennsylvania, wrote in a letter to Uber CEO Jeff Jones that he was “deeply concerned” about the potential impact of Uber’s business with the Russian government.
The relationship between Kalanickers company and Russia is a sensitive issue in the United States.
Kalanicker has long been close to President Vladimir Putin, who is the former president of Russia.
He is also known as the “Uber of Russia.”
Kalanick also has close ties to Russian President Vladimir Trump, who has called Kalanicky “a genius” and the “most brilliant person in the world.”
The pair also met in New Jersey when Trump visited the state in 2017.
In response to the investigation, Kalanicking said in an email that “we have always been transparent about the nature of our relationship with Russia and we have always acted in the best interests of all of our partners, customers and employees.
We will continue to be that way.”
Kalanick said in his email that Uber is a “global leader” that helps millions of people worldwide.
He also said the world is moving toward a “new era of cooperation and trust.”