Amazon Inc. is under fire with reports appearing the tech and retail giant spent $4.8 million on U.S. lawmakers to cover anticompetitive practices amid demands from shareholders that the company reveal its plastic footprint.
Alphabet Inc.’s Google and Amazon.com Inc., spent millions on lobbying in the first quarter of 2021 as they face heightened scrutiny from Democrats and Republicans over alleged anticompetitive practices, Bloomberg reported.
Amazon boosted its lobbying spend by 11 per cent in the quarter to $4.8 million, a company record and a reflection of the company’s sprawling business interests.
The Seattle-based company said in its filing that it lobbied on a wide range of topics, from logistics to cloud-computing and a communications satellite program.
For years, Amazon had only a small presence in Washington, geared toward lobbying on sales and internet taxes issues. That changed as Amazon grew into one of the world’s largest companies and brought on former Obama press secretary Jay Carney to run its public policy and communications unit.
Meanwhile, a group of shareholders has asked Amazon to disclose how much of its plastic packaging winds up in the environment. The retail giant’s plastic pollution could damage the company’s reputation or lead to financial penalties from regulatory action or clean-up costs, according to the shareholder proposal.
Amazon has stayed pretty tight-lipped about its plastic problem. It was accused of generating 465 million pounds of plastic packaging waste in 2019 by the nonprofit organization Oceana. More than 22 million pounds of that trash wound up in freshwater and marine ecosystems, according to the Oceana report.
During a congressional hearing in the summer of 2020, Google CEO Sundar Pichai and Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, alongside Apple CEO Tim Cook and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, defended their companies. The hearing was part of an ongoing investigation by the House Judiciary’s antitrust subcommittee focused on anticompetitive behavior.
Facebook Inc and Apple Inc cut back on lobbying spending in the first three months. Facebook spent just under $4.8 million on its Washington influence operation, a nearly 9 per cent drop from the first quarter of 2020. Apple spent about $1.5 million, down more than 32 per cent from a year earlier, according to the disclosures.
Federal Trade Commission and dozens of state attorneys-general sued Facebook last year for allegedly abusing its online dominance in a case that seeks to unwind its acquisitions of Instagram and WhatsApp. The cases represent the biggest regulatory attack against Facebook in the company’s history.