Bezos Conveniently Ignores Congress's Call to the Hot Seat

SOURCE:, 2020-05-14

In late April [2020], Amazon caught heat from members of the House Judiciary Committee for seemingly lying about the company's use of data on third party vendors selling in Amazon's marketplace. Contradicting Amazon in-house counsel (and former DOJ Antitrust official) Nate Sutton's sworn testimony on the subject in July of 2019, the Wall Street Journal broke the story on April 23rd 202 that Amazon is using proprietary information generated for third-party sellers on the platform to develop its house-brand products.

The same day the story broke, Amazon indicated the company was conducting an internal investigation while "respectfully" maintaining that the allegations are "unfounded."

Members of the House Judiciary committee, including Antitrust Subcommittee Chairman Rep. Cicilline, appropriately sent Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos a letter calling on him to appear before the committee and testify on Amazon's potentially "criminally false or perjurious" testimony on the company's business practices. The letter cited Rep. Cicilline and Rep. Jayapal's line of questioning on the use of third-party seller data, when Sutton stated, "we do not use any seller data to compete with them." His testimony is now proven false by the 20-plus current or former Amazon employees that confirmed using the data was "standard operating procedure."

House members sent that letter May 1st 2020, nearly two weeks ago. Aside from Amazon's singular tweet on the subject, neither Bezos as CEO nor Amazon as a corporation has formally replied to the House members.

Given the severity of lying to Congress, Bezos and Amazon's lack of response is concerning. In the face of credible proof of Amazon's anti-competitive behavior, Bezos is hoping the news cycle moves on quickly enough for everyone to forget about his company's perjurious statements.

His flippancy in ignoring a letter sent from not only the overseers of the country's antitrust regulation, but the elected representatives of the people, suggests Bezos considers his empire too big to jail. Bezos must heed the call to testify and be held accountable to democratic processes in front of Congress and the public. Similarly, Congress needs to act as if the premises of American democracy are under attack from Bezos and Amazon -- because they are -- and ratchet up its inherent rights to enforce an assault on its legislative prerogatives.

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