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Amazon Execs Made Campaign Donations to Dem Congressman Leading Antitrust Probe in Big Tech - Report

© AFP 2023 / LEON NEALA picture shows the logo of the online retailer Amazon dispalyed on computer screens in London on December 11, 2014
A picture shows the logo of the online retailer Amazon dispalyed on computer screens in London on December 11, 2014 - Sputnik International
Just two months before US lawmakers roasted executives from Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google at a hearing held as part of the House antitrust investigation, a handful of Amazon's top-ranking employees reportedly made individual contributions to the chair of the subcommittee leading the probe.

Over a three-week period starting in late May, five Amazon executives - CEO of Worldwide Consumer Jeff Wilke, CFO Brian Olsavsky, General Counsel David Zapolsky, SVP of Worldwide Operations Dave Clark and SVP of North America Consumer Doug Herrington - made donations to David Cicilline, the Democratic congressman who's spearheading the House antitrust investigation into the e-retailer, CNBC reported.

The contributions were purportedly made two months prior to a hearing with the House Judiciary subcommittee on antitrust, where the company's executives were questioned, along with their colleagues from Google, Facebook, and Apple, over potentially anticompetitive behaviour in July.

Four of them are alleged to have donated the maximum $2,800 allowed, while Olsavsky ostensibly made a $1,500 contribution.

While Amazon's spokesperson has declined to comment, Cicilline's representative told CNBC that on the day the subcommittee kicked off the antitrust probe, the chairman introduced "a formal policy of refusing campaign contributions from companies and executives that may be subject to scrutiny".

The professed donations by Amazon employees were made before the investigation's announcement in early June and before the July hearing was scheduled.

According to CNBC, no executives from other tech giants falling within the antitrust probe made individual contributions to the congressman's campaign this year.

Cicilline, a Rep. for Rhode Island, became the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee's Antitrust, Commercial and Administrative Law Subcommittee in January when Democrats retook control of the lower house of the US Congress.

In early June, the House opened an investigation into some of the biggest tech companies with an eye to looking into their business practices to make sure they were competing fairly.

During the hearing on 16 July, lawmakers on the antitrust panel pressed Nate Sutton, an associate general counsel at Amazon, on allegations that the company had misused data about independent sellers and pushed them to buy advertising and fulfilment services.

Sutton responded by saying that the platform's algorithms are devised "to predict what customers want to buy, and we apply the same criteria whether you're a third-party seller or Amazon to that because we want customers to make the right purchase regardless of whether it's a seller or Amazon".

Following the hearing, Cicilline said in a statement that he was "deeply troubled by the evasive, incomplete, or misleading answers" on the part of Amazon.

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