Amazon urges consultant to ‘push’ minority groups message

Lawless linked to a letter from the National Minority Quality Forum, an advocacy group focused on health disparities among minority groups, sent to lawmakers raising concerns about whether the bill would protect against violations of health data. The letter was addressed to the Senate Majority Leader chuck schumer (DN.Y.) and the bill’s Democratic co-sponsor, Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), who are working to get the bill passed by the end of the summer.

Amazon’s push this week is the latest effort by the tech giants to fight back against unfavorable legislation claiming it will harm minority groups, including funding some of these advocates, as POLITICO has previously reported. The National Minority Quality Forum lists Amazon as one of its business partners.

The email shows that the company continues to focus its lobbying on this message and provides new insight into how Amazon is trying to execute this strategy in the press and through its consultants.

Companies frequently broadcast messages favorable to their causes from advocacy groups. But the email is notable for providing new details about how Amazon is working to fend off the most serious regulatory threat the tech industry has faced in decades.

The message of social justice is particularly resonant during the Biden era, during which Democrats emphasized racial and ethnic discrimination.

It’s a controversial talking point for the company, which has come under fire for mistreating its black and Muslim employees, selling racist facial recognition technology and spreading pollution in communities of color with its warehouses.

Tech lobbyists have spent months pushing messages opposing the legislation from minority groups that receive funding from major tech companies, including Amazon, Google and Meta. Earlier this year, Google urged journalists to cover a letter denouncing legislation from the National Newspaper Publishers Association, a trade group representing black newspaper publishers that has received funding from Google.

“In a last ditch attempt to preserve their corrosive powers, big tech is now circulating arguments that antitrust law will harm black communities,” the rep said. Hakeem Jeffries (DN.Y.), co-sponsor of House tech antitrust legislation and former Congressional Black Caucus whip, said in an email to POLITICO earlier this year. “I’m not buying it.”

In Wednesday’s email exchange, the FTI consultant replied to Amazon that while he would be happy to promote the letter to the media, he wasn’t sure if he was allowed to do so, given that FTI has not been authorized to “do external outreach on behalf of Amazon. It has not previously been publicly disclosed that FTI, one of the largest financial advisory firms in the world, works for Amazon .

“I’m happy to reach out to Brendan and Sarah, but just want to make sure I’m not overstepping our terms with you,” the consultant wrote to Amazon, referring to the authors of POLITICO’s daily tech newsletters. and health care. “Chances are Brendan and/or Sarah will ask if we’re sending this on behalf of a customer. Are you okay if I say Amazon?”

FTI Consulting and Amazon declined to comment. The National Minority Quality Forum did not respond to a request for comment.

The consultant mistakenly copied a POLITICO reporter into the email. Shortly after, he sent an apologetic email to the reporter. “Obviously just accidentally sent you an internal chat email,” he wrote. “As you can read, it was pre-decision.”

Brendan Bordelon contributed to this report.

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