Amazon and a host of tech companies took the lead early on by endorsing the camp of Democratic presidential candidate John Biden, according to a Reuters report.
The law prohibits companies from donating themselves to fund electoral campaigns, and contributions are made either by the company’s political action committees known as PAC, or from PAC members or their employees.
Roger Carney, head of public policy and communications at Amazon, joined Microsoft chief Brad Smith as one of two senior technology executives, taking a public role at the Democratic convention.
Amazon, Alphabet Inc. (Google’s owner) and Microsoft are among the top 5 contributors to Candidate Joe Biden’s campaign committee in the 2020 round, according to data from OpenSecrets, a website that tracks money in politics and campaign finance records.
Tech companies are strengthening relationships to ensure they have a voice in their business practice issues, according to campaign and interview funding records.
The warming relationship between the tech industry and the Democratic Party – which dates back to several elections – worries critics of these companies’ market dominance.
Sally Hubbard, who has worked with Democratic lawmakers in the past and is now focusing on the monopoly power of tech companies at the Open Markets Institute in Washington, argues that Biden’s victory may be a repeat of what was widely seen as a repeat of President Barack Obama’s approach to tech companies.
“Are we going to see the same thing with the Biden administration?” She asked, adding that there would be a great deal of pressure from anti-monopoly groups and the progressive wing of the Democratic Party to hold companies accountable.
Biden, for his part, criticized the big internet companies during interviews and campaign events. He urged the abolition of the main legal shield that protects internet companies from liability for user-generated content, expressed concern about market concentration and privacy issues in the technology industry, criticized Amazon for not paying taxes, and expressed dissatisfaction with Facebook and its founder Mark Zuckerberg.
An Amazon spokeswoman said its political action committee did not contribute to Biden’s campaign, and said the company supported the Democratic and Republican National Convention with technology and digital services to increase viewership.
“We work with every administration in the same way,” the spokeswoman added. “Our approach will not change regardless of who wins the elections.”
Biden campaign spokesman Matt Hill said that Joe Biden is against the abuse of power, “many of the tech giants and their executives have not only misused their power, they have misled the American people, damaged our democracy, and evaded any form of responsibility.”
Carney of Amazon had worked in the administration of former President Barack Obama as a press secretary for a little over 3 years, and was Vice President Biden’s communications director in the first two years of the Obama administration.
Meanwhile, Biden’s transition team and workgroups have added at least 8 people who have worked at Facebook, Google, Amazon and Apple, and others with connections to these companies.
Republican Senator Josh Hawley – a close Trump ally and outspoken critic of major tech companies – said progressives may get “a rhetorical nod in their direction from time to time,” but the Biden campaign fundraising shows that progressives will struggle.
“The appearance of Amazon in particular at a political conference is really worrying,” Hawley told Reuters. “It is taking their lobbyists to a whole new level.”
Reuters says it is certain that many of the major tech companies – via their employees or PAC members – have been major contributors to democratic campaigning in the past three election cycles.
Donations from top Amazon executives to Biden’s campaign during the primaries were second only to Microsoft, according to data from the Revolving Door Project, part of the Center for Economic and Political Research.