Lawmakers demand Bezos explain why Amazon Smile is excluding conservative nonprofits

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Republican lawmakers want answers from Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos and why his charity program is deliberately excluding conservative nonprofit companies.

GOP members of the House Judiciary Committee fired off a letter to Bezos over his AmazonSmile charitable program which allows customers to donate a small portion of their purchases to a charity. But many conservative charities are not represented on the list of those available to donate to on Amazon, however, as the Southern Poverty Law Center is playing gatekeeper.

(Image: NBC News screenshot)

The controversial SPLC has frequently listed conservatives on its “hate watch list,” listing many conservative nonprofits and religious organizations as “hate groups,” such as Alliance Defending Freedom and Family Research Council as well as American Family Association and the Jewish Defense League.

The use of the SPLC to determine who participates in the AmazonSmile  program, lawmakers argued in a letter, means that “Amazon actively prevents such conservative groups from participating.”

“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,” the letter signed by a group of House Republicans read.

“Amazon’s reliance on the SPLC as a barometer to determine the eligibility of charitable organizations on AmazonSmile serves to discriminate against conservative views,” continued the letter from Rep. Jim Jordan, the top Republican on the House Judiciary Committee, Rep. James Sensenbrenner and others.

In the ongoing congressional investigation of conservative bias at U.S. tech firms, a virtual hearing held last month featured Bezos and Apple’s Tim Cook, Google’s Sundar Pichai as well as Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg defending their companies amid calls for the social media and technology giants to be broken up.

Rep. Matt Gaetz confronted Bezos at one point about the SPLC involvement in the charity-support program.

“Mr. Bezos, I am deeply moved by your personal story, I am not here accusing you as someone who would traffic in hate but it seems you have empowered people who do, and I am particularly talking about the Southern Poverty Law Center,” the Florida Republican said. “I’m just wondering why you would place your confidence in a group that seems to be so out of step and seems to take mainstream Christian doctrine and label it as hate.”

After trying to explain the process and being backed into a corner by Gaetz who wanted a straight answer, Bezos conceded that “this is an imperfect system.”

“I would love suggestions on … better or additional sources,” he said, prompting Gaetz to shoot back, “My suggestion would be a divorce from the SPLC.”

Jordan had also slammed the companies, saying “Big Tech’s out to get conservatives.”

Though Amazon did not yet respond to Fox Business requests for comment following the letter sent by GOP lawmakers, one Republican official with knowledge of the investigation told the network Republicans are still looking for answers.

“This letter shows that the Big Tech investigation is far from over,” the official reportedly said.

“A lot of Republicans feel like they didn’t hear enough from Jeff Bezos during July’s tech hearing on Capitol Hill,” the official added. “This letter will allow Republicans to gain further insight into Amazon’s biases against conservative groups. Republicans are expecting cooperation from Amazon. Let’s hope, for their sake at least, that happens.”

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Frieda Powers

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