WASHINGTON: With a framed Joe Biden poster in the background, Amazon.com Inc’s Jay Carney made no secret of his long history with the presidential candidate while speaking at a virtual policy roundtable during August’s Democratic party convention.
Carney, who is Amazon’s public policy and communications chief, touted the hundreds of thousands of jobs his company has created and joined Microsoft Corp’s President Brad Smith as one of two senior tech executives to have a public role at the convention – hinting at Amazon’s potential influence on a Biden administration if the democrat wins the White House.
Amazon appears to have taken an early lead making in-roads with the Biden camp, according to data gathered by Reuters from OpenSecrets and campaign finance records, along with interviews with over a dozen stakeholders including anti-monopoly groups, lobbyists, congressional aides, competitors and lawmakers.
Joining Amazon, Alphabet’s Google and Microsoft are among the top five contributors to Joe Biden’s candidate campaign committee in the 2020 cycle, according to data from OpenSecrets, a website which tracks money in politics and campaign finance records.
The firms are prohibited by law from donating themselves.
The contributions were either made by the company’s political action committees (PACs) themselves, members of the PAC or their employees.
Tech is strengthening relationships in case of a Biden victory to ensure they have a voice in an onslaught of federal and state investigations into their business practices, according to campaign finance records and interviews.
The industry’s coziness with the Democratic Party, which dates back through several elections, has critics of their market dominance worried.
Sally Hubbard, who has worked with Democratic lawmakers in the past and currently focuses on monopoly power of tech companies at Washington-based Open Markets Institute, does not want a Biden victory to translate into a repeat of what was widely viewed as President Barack Obama’s hands off approach to tech.
“Are we going to see the same thing with a Biden administration?” she asked, adding there will be a significant amount of pressure from anti-monopoly groups and the progressive wing of the Democratic party to hold the companies accountable.
Depending on the stance of a potential Biden administration, existing antitrust probes under President Trump and state attorneys general could intensify or be weakened.
Biden, for his part, has criticized large internet companies during interviews and campaign events.
He has urged the revocation of a key legal shield protecting internet companies from liability over user-generated content.