Amazon Sets New Lobbying Record as Tech Antitrust Scrutiny Grows.

Amazon Washington

Amazon.com Inc. spent a record $4.38 million on lobbying during the second quarter, according to a spokeswoman, as the e-commerce giant faced increasing antitrust scrutiny in Washington and the challenges of delivering goods to Americans stuck at home during the coronavirus pandemic.

The spending for the three months ending June 30 was up more than 9% from the same period a year ago, and represented a slight increase from its previous record in the first quarter, according to lobbying disclosures filed with Congress.

Amazon — alongside Alphabet Inc.’s Google, Apple Inc. and Facebook Inc. — is facing investigations into whether it abuses its power to stifle competition. At the same time, people increasingly rely on the services that big tech companies provide, such as Amazon’s delivery of essentials, in the midst of lockdown orders. Early during the pandemic, with online sales jumping, Amazon faced holiday-level surges as the company tried to get products to customers and avoid coronavirus outbreaks at its warehouses.

The company is preparing for Chief Executive Officer Jeff Bezos to testify next week alongside the other three big tech CEOs in what will be Bezos’s first appearance before Congress. He’s slated to appear before the House antitrust subcommittee, whose chairman, Democratic Representative David Cicilline, has criticized Amazon’s role as a marketplace for third-party merchants that it may also compete against.

Facebook spent $4.83 million during the second quarter, according to the disclosures, which were due Monday. Its outlays were up nearly 18% from the same period a year earlier, although down slightly from its record in the first quarter. In addition to federal and state antitrust investigations, the company has also been under fire for its handling of political speech, election and health misinformation, as well as racist content on its platform.

Microsoft Corp. — which hasn’t emerged as a target of the current antitrust inquiries — increased second-quarter spending 6% to $2.91 million, compared with a year earlier. That was up 21% compared with the first quarter.

Spending by Apple and Google declined in the second quarter, according to their reports. Apple reported $1.48 million, down 18% from the previous year, while Google spent $1.69 million, down more than 40% from the second quarter of 2019. Google has recently scaled back its lobbying outlays after bringing on a new policy chief.

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