Aug 09, 2022
A coalition of watchdog organizations on Tuesday pushed Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer to disclose any campaign donations he's received from major technology corporations as the New York Democrat faces growing backlash for slow-walking antitrust legislation aimed at curbing Big Tech's monopoly power.
Spearheaded by Demand Progress, the letter notes that corporate behemoths such as Amazon, Apple, Google, and Meta "have invested heavily in delaying, watering down, and defeating" the American Innovation and Choice Online Act and the Open App Markets Act, bipartisan bills designed to restrict large tech firms' ability to crowd out and crush smaller competitors through a practice known as self-preferencing.
"Contributions by these companies or their affiliates create the appearance of conflict of interest."
Both bills have passed out of committee and are "ready for floor votes," the letter observes, but Schumer has yet to move the measures, sparking concern that his family ties to Big Tech and financial contributions from the industry are influencing his decision-making. One of Schumer's daughters is a registered lobbyist for Amazon and the other is a marketing executive at Meta, Facebook's parent company.
The watchdog coalition notes that on July 26, Schumer was "the special guest at a high-dollar fundraising reception in Washington that was held to benefit IMPACT," a political action committee affiliated with the Democratic leader.
"Respectfully, we ask you to immediately disclose whether Big Tech companies, or their executives, employees, or affiliated advocacy organizations, have made or will be making contributions in connection with this event, and events like it, and what they are asking for in return," reads the letter, which was also signed by the American Economic Liberties Project, Greenpeace USA, Social Security Works, and Fight for the Future.
The letter goes on to note that Schumer's Senate campaign "is the leading recipient of political donations from Apple employees this year," and that the top Senate Democrat has "received over $170,000 in donations from Google employees this cycle."
"Contributions by these companies or their affiliates create the appearance of conflict of interest," the letter continues, "and the public has a right to know your professional and personal relationships with them, including any contributions you have solicited on behalf of the PACs, campaign committees, and advocacy organizations you support."
\u201c.@SenSchumer has slow rolled major bipartisan bills to rein in Big Tech. This plus his close association w/ tech execs is worrying. \n\nHe can clear the air by disclosing any $$ he's received from Big Tech, their executives, employees, or affiliated advocacy orgs.\n\nOur letter:\u201d— Demand Progress (@Demand Progress) 1660055011
Bloombergreported that Schumer told attendees of the private July 26 fundraiser that the American Innovation and Choice Online Act--sponsored by Sens. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa)--did not have the 60 votes needed to pass the Senate, despite Grassley's assurances that enough Republicans support the measure.
Schumer had originally vowed to bring the American Innovation and Choice Online Act to the Senate floor for a vote by early summer, but he is now promising a vote by the fall, according to the majority leader's office.
"Sen. Schumer is working with Sen. Klobuchar and other supporters to gather the needed votes and plans to bring it up for a vote," a spokesperson for Schumer's Washington, D.C. office said in a statement to Politico last week.
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