Press Releases

Tech Oversight Project Report: Amazon’s Corrupt DC Influence Operation

Aug 15, 2023

View the report here

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, The Tech Oversight Project released a new report on Amazon’s vast influence operation that the company has deployed to evade law enforcement, undermine bipartisan Congressional action, push false narratives, and hide behind industry front groups, like NetChoice, the Chamber of Progress, and the Computer and Communications Industry Association (CCIA). The report sheds light on Amazon’s direct and indirect lobbying efforts, its revolving door hiring strategy, campaign donations, and the array of organizations Amazon funds to launder its talking points from the board room to Capitol Hill. Read the full report here.

“Amazon’s vast influence operation is a tacit acknowledgment that they manipulate their marketplace to harm consumers, and their business model relies on those predatory practices to turn a profit. They have funded nearly 600 front groups, bankrolled elaborate astroturf campaigns, and undermined popular, bipartisan antitrust efforts because Amazon understands that if they have to compete and protect consumers, their bottom line will suffer,” said Kyle Morse, Deputy Executive Director of the Tech Oversight Project. “From day one, FTC Chair Lina Khan has made it crystal clear that Amazon’s predatory practices like manipulating their online marketplace, abusing the buy-box, and blocking out competitors hurts consumers, raises prices, and will not be tolerated. We applaud Chair Khan’s efforts to protect American consumers from Amazon’s abusive practices and will continue to call out their lies and falsehoods.”

Key Findings:

  • In 2022 alone, Amazon helped fund 596 federal, state, and local organizations to act as front groups and launder its talking points.
  • Per OpenSecrets, Amazon (as a company alone) has spent over $108 million on lobbying in the last five years. This excludes the vast lobbying network they fund.
  • The company has been willing to deploy its CEO Andy Jassy in direct appeals to Senate leadership to avoid bipartisan antitrust reform, like AICOA.
  • In the last Congress, Amazon lobbied harder against AICOA than any other bill before Congress – by a 2-to-1 ratio.
  • Revolving Door:
    • Amazon put Judd Smith, one of the key Republican staffers who drafted AICOA, on their payroll.
    • Jeff Miller, a close friend and ally of now-Speaker Kevin McCarthy, lobbies on behalf of Amazon and works directly on lobbying against AICOA.
    • Amazon hired former NTIA Administrator David Redl.
    • Based on LinkedIn searches, Amazon has hired AT LEAST 13 former high-ranking officials at the FTC.
  • Since the 2018 cycle, Amazon has doled out a whopping $31,767,985 in campaign donations to candidates at the federal level.
  • In the last year, Amazon has funded former Republican Senator Scott Brown’s industry-backed group, Competitiveness Coalition, which has advocated for decreasing the FTC’s budget. This represents Amazon’s direct involvement in attempts to decrease the operating budget of its own regulators.
  • In the last year, Amazon has funded the Competitive Enterprise Institute, which launched an anti-FTC war room and has run digital and OTT ads bashing FTC Chair Lina Khan’s consumer protection efforts.
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