Tag: amazon
After Promising To Defund Election Deniers, Corporate PACS Gave Them Millions

After Promising To Defund Election Deniers, Corporate PACS Gave Them Millions

A new report by the nonprofit government watchdog Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, or CREW, found many of America's blue-chip corporations have collectively given tens of millions of dollars to congressional Republicans who voted against certifying President Joe Biden's 2020 election win, a group CREW dubbed the "Sedition Caucus."

At least 231 companies announced that they would either entirely suspend, temporarily halt, or meaningfully reassess their political giving in the days after a pro-Trump mob fueled by conspiracy theories about the 2020 election stormed the U.S. Capitol building on January 6, 2021.

After Congress reconvened later that night, 147 Republicans — 139 in the House and 8 in the Senate — voted against certifying the 2020 election, in some cases citing claims of widespread voter fraud. Numerous national- and state-level recounts, election audits, and independent investigations have found no evidence that the outcome of the 2020 election was affected by fraud.

According to the CREW report, 166 of those companies have resumed donating to political campaigns and leadership PACs run by those election objectors. Several companies that condemned the attack are among that number, including Disney, Amazon, and Allstate.

In a statement, a Disney spokesman called the attack "an appalling siege" and criticized legislators who voted against certifying Biden's victory. Amazon said the insurrection was an "unacceptable attempt to undermine a legitimate democratic process," and a senior vice president at Allstate told CNN that the vote "did not align with the committee's commitment to bipartisanship, collaboration and compromise."

However, according to CREW's report, Amazon has since given $46,500 to election objectors, Disney $4,500, and Allstate $36,000.

An Amazon spokesman told the American Independent Foundation that the company's political action committee gives to Congress members who "share our views on issues that are important to our customers and our business in general." The spokesperson said the suspension of donations was not intended to be permanent.

The three companies are far from alone in doubling back on strong statements; Politico reported last week that Cigna, the multi-billion-dollar health insurance giant, gave more than $200,000 to election objectors ahead of the 2022 midterm elections after promising to cease contributing to "any elected official who encouraged or supported violence, or otherwise hindered the peaceful transition of power."

"Some issues are so foundational to our core fiber that they transcend all other matters of public policy," read a Cigna internal memo obtained by CNBC. "There is never any justification for violence or destruction of the kind we saw at the U.S. Capitol — the building that [is] such a powerful symbol of the very democracy that makes our nation strong."

Of the top five corporate donors to election objectors since Jan. 6, 2021 — Koch Industries, Boeing, Valero Energy, Home Depot, and AT&T — all but Koch Industries made some kind of promise to cease giving in the wake of the insurrection.

The report also notes corporate contributions to election deniers who won election to Congress in the 2022 midterms, including Ohio Sen. J.D. Vance, a Republican who spread false claims of voter fraud in the 2020 election, and Rep. Derrick Van Orden (R-WI), who the Daily Beast reported crossed police lines on the grounds of the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 during the insurrection.

Sixty-five of the companies CREW surveyed have remained committed to their public rejection of election objectors, including Meta, BlackRock, Target, and Nike. However, lobbyists working for some of the corporations that publicly pledged to refrain from supporting election objectors, including Microsoft, Meta, Nike, and Dow Chemical Company, have since made personal contributions to some of those lawmakers.

"None of the remaining members who fed lies about the election and voted not to certify have atoned for their actions," CREW research director Robert Maguire told the American Independent Foundation. "What is the point — other than good PR — of making a commitment to not give, if you're just going to start making donations to those same politicians in the same election cycle, only a little later than you normally would have?"

"You can't say you support voting rights or democracy while also making campaign contributions to members of Congress who in many cases tried to disenfranchise voters in entire states and attempted to overturn a free and fair election," Maguire added.

Reprinted with permission from American Independent.

Public Approval Of Unions At Highest Point Since 1965, Again

Public Approval Of Unions At Highest Point Since 1965, Again

Public support for unions is at its highest level since 1965, according to Gallup’s annual pre-Labor Day survey. And if that headline sounds familiar, it’s because last year Gallup also found the highest public support for unions since 1965.

In 2021, 68 percent of people surveyed said they approved of labor unions. In 2022, 71 percent said they approved. That’s a “statistically similar” number, as Gallup puts it, but before the pandemic, the number was 64 percent. That’s part of an ongoing trend in the right direction: “Support for labor unions was highest in the 1950s, when three in four Americans said they approved,” Gallup notes. “Support only dipped below the 50% mark once, in 2009, but has improved in the 13 years since and now sits at a level last seen nearly 60 years ago.”

Recent years have seen a series of teacher uprisings against education budget cuts and low wages—teachers face a significant pay penalty in comparison with other equivalently educated workers—and, this year, a remarkable string of union wins at Starbucks along with one enormous win at Amazon. The COVID-19 pandemic also spurred many workers to reconsider their relationships with their work and their employers, as workers dubbed “essential” early in the pandemic soon saw themselves treated as disposable and workers faced the competing pressures of care work, health and safety, and the demands of their employers.

Over the past decade-plus, unions have also led fights for policies like an increased minimum wage and paid leave—extremely successful initiatives at the state level, even if those policies remain stalled at the federal level—that benefit all workers, not just union members. Even if you don’t pay attention to the data showing that unions reduce economic inequality, the old right-wing attacks on unions as purely self-interested very obviously don’t hold water.

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos.

Amazon Selling Books From Neo-Nazi Publisher That Promote Violence And Finance Terrorism

Amazon Selling Books From Neo-Nazi Publisher That Promote Violence And Finance Terrorism

Reprinted with permission from Media Matters

Amazon is currently selling multiple books from a neo-Nazi publisher that is associated with a terrorist group. Proceeds from one of the books are going directly to the author, a white nationalist who is in prison for targeting minority-owned organizations.

The two books available for sale, The Movementarian Menace and The Futurist State, are listed as "sold and shipped by Amazon," which reportedly means that they were purchased as inventory by Amazon to be sold and shipped from one of its warehouses. Yet they both appear to violate Amazon's Content Guidelines for Books, which states that the company will not sell "certain content including content that we determine is hate speech," or content that "advocates terrorism." The same guidelines state that the company "invest[s] significant time and resources to enforce these guidelines, using a combination of machine learning, automation, and dedicated teams of human reviewers."

The books feature numerous slurs and smears directed at Jewish, nonwhite, and LGBTQ individuals. The Movementarian Menacemakes references to "Jews and other common enemies" and "blacks running rampant in the streets of America and demolishing everything in their path," calling for a "union of white individuals who will come together in blood and spirit to take down an enemy." The Futurist State calls for the murder of LGBTQ people, saying that "the LGBT movement" should be treated as "as an enemy occupation of our lands," adding, "You can't beg your way to power in an occupation, you can only kill your occupiers and take back power." The book makes numerous calls for violence with statements such as, "Through war and violence, we can see the betterment of our race and the proper and healthy growth of our race."

The publisher of the books, the American Futurist, describes itself as seeking "to spread the message and ideas of James Mason" through "the promotion of books, articles and all other forms of media." Mason, a neo-Nazi writer whose work is cited in The Movementarian Menace, is also a major influence behind Atomwaffen Division, a violent white nationalist terrorist group. As noted by the Counter Extremism Project, the American Futurist is associated with Atomwaffen Division (also known as the National Socialist Order) and multiple ex-members of the group have contributed content to American Futurist.

One such contributor is the author of The Movementarian Menace, Vincent Snyder, whose real name, the American Futurist notes, is John Cameron Denton. Denton, himself the former leader of Atomwaffen Division, was sentenced to 41 months in prison in May for taking part in a conspiracy that involved hate crimes targeting a historic African American church, an Islamic Center, and various other minority groups across the United States.

screenshot of Amazon list for The Movementarian Menacescreenshot of listing on Amazon

American Futurist states that all proceeds from the sale of Denton's book on Amazon will go to his "prison commissary fund." As Amazon has already purchased the books as part of its inventory, the company has already contributed directly to Denton.

The failure of Amazon's policies seem clear when you recognize that both Denton's book and The Futurist State are currently promoted by Amazon on its list of "new releases in radical political thought," with both books appearing in the top 10 as of September 27. Another book sold by American Futurist, Why We Fight, is listed as "sold out--limited availability." Why We Fight and The Movementarian Menace contain swastikas on their cover, and Why We Fight's listed author is "The Personal Office of The Wehrmacht," all of which should be expected to draw some scrutiny from Amazon at the very least.

Amazon's failure to moderate this content did not go unnoticed by the American Futurist, which, in its posting celebrating the sale of its books on Amazon, wrote, "Obviously these will be taken down sometime in the future by Amazon" but said that "Amazon tends to be pretty slow when taking stuff down and only really takes stuff down if they get pressure from certain people/groups that are higher up the chain." The publisher noted that one of Mason's books remained on Amazon for two months.

Amazon has a responsibility to provide better content moderation for its users, a responsibility it has historically struggled to fulfill. The fact that Amazon sells literature by groups and individuals that promote and engage in violence shows the potentially significant consequences of the tech company profiting off such a large marketplace without effective oversight.