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Friday, June 7, 2019

By Richard McCarty

 

Antitrust regulators at the Justice Department and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) are setting their sights on Big Tech, and Amazon, may soon be under investigation by the FTC for monopolizing commerce.

But this is not the first time Amazon has come under fire as it has repeatedly taken actions that target conservatives on ideological grounds and may be harming their ability to compete as well. To begin to address the company’s liberal bias, a shareholder resolution was filed to require the disclosure of the ideological perspectives of the company’s board members. Although the resolution asked for comparatively little, it was still too much for Amazon.

The ideological diversity resolution was proposed by Justin Danhof, the director of the Free Enterprise Project. For those unfamiliar with it, the Free Enterprise Project is a part of the National Center for Public Policy Research, which is a conservative think tank in Washington, D.C. founded in 1982.

In arguing for the resolution, Danhof wrote, “True diversity comes from diversity of thought. There is ample evidence that the many companies operate in ideological hegemony that eschews conservative people, thoughts, and values. This ideological echo chamber can result in groupthink that is the antithesis of diversity. This can be a major risk factor for shareholders.”

In arguing against the resolution, Amazon wrote, “Diversity is a cornerstone of our continued success, and we are proud of the diversity of experience and perspectives represented by our directors and our employees. … Our Board composition reflects the robust nominating processes that we already have in place, which address much of what this proposal requests.”

While Amazon might be proud of its diversity, the company’s board is not very diverse in terms of race or age: the board is older and overwhelmingly white. The board appears to have five white men, three white women, one Black woman, and one Indian-American woman. The board ranges in age from 55 to 74, with only three members under the age of 60. In other words, there are no Generation Xers or Millennials on the board.

Amazon’s board is not very diverse in terms of ideology either; its political spectrum seems to range from roughly the center to the left, with most on the left. According to campaign finance data from the National Institute on Money in Politics, it appears that the board has no conservatives, one nonpartisan, three moderates, and six Democrats, including two big Democrat donors. For example, board members Judith McGrath and Jamie Gorelick, who was a senior Justice Department official in the Clinton Administration, have both given hundreds of thousands of dollars to Democrats; and board members Rosalind Brewer and Patricia Stonecipher, who worked in the Obama White House, have both given tens of thousands of dollars to Democrats. In contrast, there are no former senior Republican Administration officials on the board, nor are there any major Republican donors. If this is Jeff Bezos’s idea of diversity, he needs to open a dictionary.

After the ideological diversity resolution was defeated, Danhof, its author, stated, “Amazon claims to care about diversity and inclusion. [Amazon’s shareholder] meeting put the truth to that lie. Amazon’s board isn’t interested in hearing conservative viewpoints. Furthermore, the company seems determined to keep funding anti-religious bigotry and partnering with groups such as the Southern Poverty Law Center to demonize pro-family and Christian organizations.”

Like other large technology companies, Amazon supports liberal causes, has stacked its board with liberals, and shows no interest in shifting course. While the government takes a look at Amazon from an antitrust perspective, before doing any further business with Amazon, conservatives should ask themselves if this is really the type of company that they wish to support. Perhaps, if Amazon’s contempt for conservatives costs it enough business, it will rethink its liberal biases—or at least be more hesitant to publicly display its biases.

 

Richard McCarty is the Director of Research at Americans for Limited Government.