Sources told Bloomberg that the company has given more than $1 million to the Competitiveness Coalition, which is led by former Massachusetts Senator Scott Brown. Although the group presents itself as an advocate for American taxpayers at the grassroots level, it has yet to disclose the very generous funding it has received from Amazon.
A call to action on their website urges people to write to their senator in opposition of the American Innovation and Choice Online Act. The bill, which has attracted bipartisan support, seeks to provide federal antitrust agencies with greater authority when it comes to enforcing penalties against Amazon and other firms, such as Google owner Alphabet and Facebook owner Meta.
The bill would stop Amazon from promoting its own services in a manner that hurts the ability of rivals, other parties and the platform’s own sellers to compete against them. This has been a longstanding complaint among Amazon sellers. In the past, investigations have shown that the company places products from its own house brands and sellers who are exclusive to its site ahead of those of competitors, even if the competitors’ products have better customer ratings and higher sales.
Since its founding in March when the bill started to gain steam, the coalition has met with Republican lawmakers, penned op-eds in opposition of the bill, and run ad campaigns on TV.
In a letter to lawmakers, the coalition claimed: “Passing this measure as our economy teeters on the brink of a recession and while China continues to nip at our heels, is akin to lighting a match next to a gas leak.”
This is just the latest example of the way that tech giants secretly funnel money to groups who back their agenda. Amazon, Apple, Meta and Alphabet have been funneling hundreds of millions of dollars trying to defeat measures that go against their business interests over the years.
Not surprisingly, when contacted by Bloomberg, Brown declined to comment on the situation, while Amazon ignored the news outlet's requests for comment.
While their support of the coalition would make it appear that Amazon believes they have a chance of stopping the bill from passing in the U.S., they are taking a decidedly different approach with European Commission regulators, who have also taken action against Amazon regarding antitrust issues.
They accused Amazon of abusing its role as a marketplace owner and retailer through actions such as placing a Buy Box on every product page that favors their own retail business and the use of Prime, which they determined favors sellers who use Amazon’s logistics services.
Instead of deflecting, Amazon has been engaging with the European Commission and trying to address their concerns, so it would appear that Amazon believes the investigation by the EU could seriously damage its business.
They have already agreed to stop “using non-public data relating to, or derived from, the activities of independent sellers on its marketplace, for its retail business that competes with those sellers.”
They will also give all sellers equal treatment when their system determines which seller is featured in the Buy Box at any given time, while adding a second box for some products to give sellers a greater chance of appearing in front of Amazon shoppers.
The company also said they would allow third-party sellers to offer fast Prime delivery times, even if they do not use Amazon’s logistics services.
Sources for this article include: