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US: Amazon execs donated to antitrust investigator’s campaign

 |  August 19, 2019

Amazon’s top executives allegedly made donations to the chair in charge of investigating the eCommerce giant, CNBC reported on Sunday.

The donations were reportedly made two months before lawmakers were planning to interrogate Amazon as part of a bigger antitrust probe that also involved Apple, Facebook and Google.

The main benefactor of the campaign funds was reportedly Rep. David Cicilline (Rhode Island), the head of the House antitrust investigation. He allegedly started getting donations in late May from five Amazon senior executives, the article said.

Amazon’s CEO of Worldwide Consumers Jeff Wilke, general counsel David Zapolsky, SVP of Worldwide Operations Dave Clark, and SVP of North America Consumer Doug Herrington contributed US$2,800 each, the maximum donation allowed. CFO Brian Olsavsky donated US$1,500.

CNBC reported there were no 2019 donations to Cicilline’s campaign from the other tech companies involved in the antitrust probe.

Experts said the timing of Amazon executives’ payments likely reflects the company’s heightened urgency over growing regulatory scrutiny, the article said.

“It suggests a greater sense of pressure or threat of regulation from Congress, especially given the growing bipartisan attention being directed to this issue,” Alexander Hertel-Fernandez, a political science professor at Columbia University, told CNBC.

CNBC stated an Amazon spokesperson declined to comment. Cicilline’s representative emailed the news outlet and said that when the antitrust probe was launched, the chairman put a formal policy in place “of refusing campaign contributions from companies and executives that may be subject to scrutiny.”

The donations by Amazon executives were made before the antitrust probe announcement, and before the July hearing was scheduled.

Representatives from Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google appeared before the House Antitrust Subcommittee last month to discuss “dominant platforms and innovation.” The hearing involved policy executives, including Amazon’s Associate General Counsel Nate Sutton; Apple’s Chief Compliance Officer Kyle Andeer; Facebook’s Head of Global Policy Development Matt Perault; and Google’s Director of Economic Policy Adam Cohen.

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