House Republicans question whether Amazon charity is discriminating against conservative nonprofits

A letter to the company and CEO Jeff Bezos alleges the company's reliance on information from the Southern Poverty Law Center unfairly excludes conservative non-profits from participating in Amazon's charity program

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Jeff Bezos in 2014
Jeff Bezos in 2014
(David Ryder/Getty Images)
Updated: August 24, 2020 - 3:39pm

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GOP Reps. Jim Jordan and Matt Gaetz on Monday sent a letter to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos arguing his company's AmazonSmile charity support program unjustly excludes some conservative non-profit organizations from participating.

The letter requests a briefing from AmazonSmile about the ways in which it uses information from the Southern Poverty Law Center to make eligibility determinations for its program. SPLC is a nonprofit legal advocacy group focusing on civil rights and public interest litigation.

The letter states that the SPLC has "baselessly labeled some conservative charitable organization 'hate groups,'" and that the committee is therefore curious about Amazon's use of the group to determine which non-profits may participate in its program. 

The letter, from the House Judiciary Committee, of which Jordan is the top Republican and Gaetz is a member, was also signed by 13 other non-committee House Republicans. 

The letter also cites a recent hearing of the committee's Subcommittee on Antitrust, Commercial, and Administrative Law, which featured Bezos testifying for the first time before Congress.

Some members of the subcommittee used the hearing to question four Big Tech CEOs about alleged discrimination against conservative individuals and groups on their respective platforms.

During Bezos's testimony he said, according to the letter, that his company's "approach is imperfect" and would "welcome suggestions from improvement."

The letter determines that "the exclusion of these conservative groups from Amazon’s heavily-trafficked digital platform leads to less exposure for these groups and fewer opportunities for donations. In this way, Amazon's reliance on the SPLC as a barometer to determine the eligibility of charitable organizations on AmazonSmile serves to discriminate against conservative views."

The memo continues, "Amazon’s ongoing reliance on the SPLC, with its documented anti-conservative track record, reinforces allegations that Big Tech is biased against conservatives and censors conservative views."

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