Amazon and Big Tech cozy up to Biden camp with cash and connections

In this news, we discuss the Amazon and Big Tech cozy up to Biden camp with cash and connections.

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – With a framed poster of Joe Biden in the background, Amazon.com Inc.’s AMZN.O Jay Carney made no secret of his long history with the presidential candidate during a political roundtable virtual at the Democratic Party convention in August.

Carney, who is Amazon’s chief public policy and communications officer, touted the hundreds of thousands of jobs his company has created and joined Microsoft Corp. MSFT President Brad Smith as the one of two top tech executives to have a public role at the convention – hinting at Amazon’s potential influence over a Biden administration if the Democrat wins the White House.

Amazon appears to have quickly taken the lead in committing to Biden’s camp, according to data collected by Reuters from OpenSecrets and campaign finance records, as well as interviews with more than a dozen stakeholders, including anti-monopoly groups, lobbyists, congressional aides, competitors, and lawmakers.

Joining Amazon, Google GOOGL.O and Alphabet’s Microsoft are among the top five contributors to Joe Biden’s candidate campaign committee in the 2020 cycle, according to data from OpenSecrets, a site Web that tracks money in politics and campaign finance records. Click here tmsnrt.rs/2GsjNa4 and here tmsnrt.rs/34bbg3M to see the graph of the main contributors.

The law prohibits companies from giving of themselves. The contributions were made either by the political action committees (PAC) of the company themselves, or by members of the PAC or their employees.

Tech Strengthens relationships in the event of Biden’s victory to ensure they have a voice in the onslaught of federal and state investigations into their business practices, according to campaign funding records and interviews.

The industry’s comfort with the Democratic Party, which dates back to several elections, worries critics of their market dominance.

Sally Hubbard, who has worked with Democratic lawmakers in the past and currently focuses on the monopoly power of technology companies at the Washington-based Open Markets Institute, doesn’t want a Biden victory to result in a repeat of what was widely regarded as the hands of President Barack Obama. off approach to technology.

“Are we going to see the same thing with a Biden administration?” she asked, adding that there would be significant pressure from anti-monopoly groups and the progressive wing of the Democratic Party to hold companies to account.

Depending on the position of a potential Biden administration, existing antitrust investigations under President Trump and state attorneys general could escalate or be weakened.

Biden, for his part, criticized large internet companies in interviews and campaign events. He called for the revocation of a key legal shield protecting internet companies from liability over user-generated content. He also expressed concern about market concentration and privacy concerns in the tech industry; criticized Amazon for not paying taxes; and expressed his displeasure Facebook and its founder Mark Zuckerberg.

His top two tech policy advisers include Bruce Reed, who served as Biden’s chief of staff from 2011 to 2013, and Stef Feldman, campaign policy director, according to a Biden campaign source. Reed and Feldman did not respond to requests for comment via the campaign.

An Amazon spokeswoman said the company’s PAC did not contribute to the Biden campaign. She said Amazon was supporting both the Democratic and Republican National Convention with technology and digital services to increase audiences.

“We work with each administration in the same way … our approach will not change regardless of who wins the election,” added the spokesperson.

Biden campaign spokesman Matt Hill said Joe Biden was against the abuse of power. “Many tech giants and their leaders have not only abused their power, but have also misled the American people, damaged our democracy, and shirked any form of accountability. It ends with a President Biden, ”Hill added.

Google declined the comment. Microsoft said the contributions were made by its employees.

“THE PROGRESSIVE WILL FIGHT”

Tech: Biden’s ties to Biden run deep.

Carney from Amazon worked in the administration of former President Barack Obama as a press secretary for just over three years. He was Vice President Biden’s director of communications for the first two years of the Obama administration.

Amazon Attorney General David Zapolsky is one of the main fundraisers for Biden, also known as the Consolidator who, as individuals, has raised over $ 25,000. Consolidators are sometimes rewarded with privileged positions in their beneficiary’s administration, such as key jobs in federal agencies and influential advisory boards. Zapolsky also directly contributed just over $ 250,000 to various funds supporting Biden’s presidency, according to campaign fundraising records. Zapolsky did not comment.

Meanwhile, the transition team and the Biden campaign task forces have added at least eight people who have worked for Facebook, Google, Amazon and Apple and others with ties to these companies.

A senior political adviser to a progressive Senate Democrat, who did not wish to be named, said Big Tech’s proximity to the Biden campaign is concerning. The battle for the left wing of the Democratic Party on this issue will be whether they can secure crucial appointments in the administration and less push Biden towards progressive options, the aide added.

Republican Senator Josh Hawley, a close ally of Trump and a vocal critic of big tech companies, said progressives might get a “rhetorical nod in their direction from time to time,” but fundraising from the Biden campaign shows progressives will struggle. “For Amazon in particular, being shown at a political convention is really, really worrying,” Hawley told Reuters. “It takes their lobbying to a whole new level.”

Granted, many large tech companies – their employees, PACs, or PAC members – have been major contributors to Democratic presidential campaigns over the past three election cycles, with one notable exception: Amazon. However, contributions from employees of the Seattle-based retailer have now made Amazon the fifth-largest contributor to the Democratic Candidates’ campaign committee, according to OpenSecrets data and campaign finance records. Big tech companies are completely absent from the Trump campaign committee’s top 20 contributors list.

According to data from the Revolving Door Project, which is part of the Center for Economic and Policy Research, Amazon’s top executives donations to the Biden campaign during the primaries were just Microsoft’s.

“I think all the fundraisers that we see are probably going to buy them access (Amazon), but in terms of political results, I think it’s going to buy them very little,” a technology policy adviser said in the campaign. Biden, who did not wish to be named. “There’s a lot of collective outrage against technology in Washington these days, and they just can’t go under the radar.”

Reporting by Nandita Bose in Washington; edited by Chris Sanders and Edward Tobin

Original © Thomson Reuters

Originally posted 2020-10-01 08:26:13.

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