According to documents reviewed by CNBC, Amazon gave $400,000 to a conservative nonprofit last year as the group pushed back on antitrust bills being considered in Congress.
The Independent Women's Forum received a six-figure contribution from the e-commerce giant in the year that the group wrote columns against bills that could strengthen antitrust enforcement.
The second-highest contribution listed on the documents shows last year's top donors. The Independent Women's Forum was one of the nonprofits that received at least $10,000 from Amazon. The disclosures didn't give an exact dollar amount for the donations.
The group is proud to receive support from a variety of foundations, individuals of all income levels, and from a few corporations. Most of our donors are small individual donors. The letter was written in response to a request from a member of the committee.
The group is said to have helped craft a letter opposing schools forcing children to wear Covid-19 protective masks, as well as being involved in efforts to minimize political blowback to Republicans as a result of the Supreme Court's decision.
The Justice Department's Antitrust Division and the Federal Trade Commission have been looking into whether big technology companies compete fairly.
The Independent Women's Forum published a column about the dangers of big tech.
The type of legislation could hurt consumers and raves about the tech giants according to a director at the group. Big Tech is beneficial to a lot of people.
A second bill was introduced in October of 2021. The American innovation and choice online act would prohibit tech companies from favoring their own products and services over competitors. Legislation could affect how Amazon advertises on its website.
Businesses that purchase or use other products and services would not be able to get certain benefits from the company. Fulfillment by Amazon is a service where Amazon ships and stores goods for merchants who sell on its platform in exchange for a fee. The Prime logo can be displayed on their listing if they are eligible for swift delivery. The third-party marketplace was launched by Amazon in 2000 and allowed everyone from small businesses that operate out of their garage to established brands to sell on its site. Half of Amazon's online retail sales are accounted for by the marketplace.
In December, Onwuka wrote an essay titled, "Amazon Prime may not be around to save the day next christmas." Antitrust efforts like this one are not protecting consumers but driving up prices.
The Senate hasn't yet voted on the bills.
The Independent Women's Forum was one of 30 organizations that co-signed an October 2021. The letter urged you to reject any proposal that would give unelected bureaucrats more power to control the economy.
Lukas, the group's president, told CNBC that Amazon supports its Center for Economic Opportunity, the department that regularly takes on antitrust proposals through authored columns. The center is run by Onwuka.
There are many organizations and individuals that believe in the mission of IWF. Lukas said in a statement that Amazon supports the Center for Economic Opportunity.
The IWF has supported limited government and free markets for a long time. We criticized what we saw as censorship of conservative views and highlighted our concerns about tech censorship. She said that government solutions could backfire in terms of viewpoint diversity.
Requests for comment were not returned.
The Independent Women's Forum filed a tax return with the South Carolina Secretary of State.
The public disclosure of donors on that form was atypical according to experts who study nonprofits and their financial records. The Republican Secretary of State in South Carolina is up for reelection.
It appears that the disclosure of this nonprofit's donors was accidental. Michael Beckel, a research director at watchdog group Issue One, told CNBC that it looks like state regulators in South Carolina failed to redact the names of the donors.
The Independent Women's Forum sent the governing body its 990 form with the full list of donors. South Carolina law allows nonprofits to remove the identity of their donors before they file with the Secretary of State. The filing was sent with the names of their top donors from 2021.
One of the ones on the website was filed by the organization. The office files the financial statements for the organization. She said that the organization didn't redact Schedule B when it filed the online form. The list of names revealing the identity of the donors was removed by the secretary of state's office after CNBC contacted them.
According to the document, Amazon is tied for the second largest listed contribution in 2021. The foundation of the billionaire Walton family, whose wealth comes from Walmart, donated $400,000. The Charles Koch Foundation was founded by Charles Koch.
The Diana Davis Spencer Foundation, chaired by philanthropist Diana Davis Spencer, gave the most money to the forum in the year 2021. It raised over $6 million last year, an increase of more than $1 million from the previous year.
According to a report by the Center for Media and Democracy, the forum's board chair admitted at a private donor retreat that the organization is not neutral politically.
Richardson said at the 2016 retreat that they were in a unique position because they had people who knew they were conservative.
The Washington Post reported that the Independent Women's Forum helped craft a letter against the schools. According to the newspaper, Independent Women's Voice is trying to help minimize blowback against Republicans from the Supreme Court's decision to overturn abortion rights.
Amazon is not the only big tech supporter. Facebook and Google have been listed as organization sponsors in the past. The Independent Women's Forum is one of the groups that gets the most substantial contributions from the U.S. Government Affairs and Public Policy team.
According to the program the group made public, the most recent Independent Women's Forum Gala was not sponsored by the two tech giants.
The man who received an award at that event was a critic of tech giants.
He was unaware that the Independent Women's Forum had funding from Amazon and Google when he spoke to CNBC. He won't give his trophy back and won't talk about the group. He admitted that tech giants are trying to sway public discourse with donations like these.
The use of capital as a weapon and the use of market power as a weapon to tilt the scales of public discourse has become a common practice.