22 May 2014 Jeff Bezos Ducks Request that Amazon.com Use Its Own Judgment, Not Political Activists, to Determine Companies and Groups to Work With
Request Comes in Light of News that Amazon.com Has Relied on Southern Poverty Law Center, Whose So-Called “Hate Map” Including Mainstream Conservative Groups Inspired a D.C. Shooting
Leftists Also Have Demanded that Amazon Boycott the Boy Scouts
Seattle, WA / Washington, D.C. – Amazon.com CEO Jeff Bezos refused Wednesday to pledge the company would seek to avoid politics and aspire to be “content neutral” in response to repeated requests from left-wing activist groups that Amazon.com sever ties with traditional and conservative organizations.
The request for the pledge came from Justin Danhof, representing the Free Enterprise Project of the National Center for Public Policy Research, who asked Bezos, in part:
Mr. Bezos, Amazon has recently come under fire from activists demanding that the company end certain associations for politically-motivated reasons. For example, last week MSNBC reported that more than 105,000 people had signed a change.org petition calling on the company to ends its AmazonSmile association with the Boy Scouts of America over that group’s position on openly gay leaders. The MSNBC article also noted that Amazon relies, in part, on lists compiled by the Southern Poverty Law Center to determine which groups to work with.
In a September 2013 report, the SPLC also claimed that Amazon was allowing so-called hate groups to profit off of relationships with the company. In 2012, the SPLC’s hate map was used by a would-be mass murderer to target the Family Research Council in Washington, D.C. And in March of this year, the Federal Bureau of Investigation broke its ties with the SPLC. Given this, and the SPLC’s shoddy record of defining hate groups, which includes listing many traditionally conservative and religious organizations, I urge the company’s leadership to dismiss the SPLC’s findings, and instead, use your own resources and expertise to determine who to work with…
On Tuesday, Danhof, again representing the National Center, made a very similar request at Groupon’s annual shareholder meeting. Groupon’s management emphatically agreed.
“Amazon investors and employees have sincere cause for concern following today’s shareholder meeting. I asked Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos to make a simple pledge to be content neutral in deciding which merchants and outside organizations with which to affiliate, and he simply refused to answer the question,” said Danhof. “Bezos said he recognized that the issue was complex and that the company would continue working on it.”
“In the meantime, Amazon will apparently continue to rely on activist organizations such as the Southern Poverty Law Center for advice on which organizations Amazon will do business with. This is a scary proposition for Amazon’s investors. Doing the bidding of activist groups, rather than reacting to market forces such as consumer demand, is an irresponsible business practice. Activists, by their very nature, change with the political winds, and if Amazon wants a defense against the next dictate from these groups, it will adhere to a content neutral policy which we suggested.”
“Just this week, the executive leadership team at Groupon was able to firmly pledge to stay neutral and not take dictates from activist groups that have been demanding that Groupon end deals with certain merchants. Groupon clearly understands that bending to political whims is a great way to break a company and lose market focus. By pledging to stay neutral in current and future policy dust-ups, they have inoculated themselves from the next activist attack. If companies signal that they are willing to accede to the demands of groups such as PETA or Greenpeace, they send a signal to other activists that its company is ripe for the picking. This is what Amazon has done today, and what Groupon has protected itself against,” Danhof concluded.
More on events at the Groupon meeting can be found here.
Danhof’s question for Amazon.com, as prepared for delivery, can be found here.
The National Center’s Free Enterprise Project is a leading free-market corporate activist group. In 2013, Free Enterprise Project representatives attended 33 shareholder meetings advancing free-market ideals in the areas of health care, energy, taxes, subsidies, regulations, religious freedom, media bias, gun rights and many more important public policy issues. Thursday’s Amazon.com meeting was the National Center’s 35th attendance at a shareholder meeting so far in 2014.
National Center for Public Policy Research Chairman Amy Ridenour is an Amazon shareholder.
The National Center for Public Policy Research, founded in 1982, is a non-partisan, free-market, independent conservative think-tank. Ninety-four percent of its support comes from individuals, less than four percent from foundations, and less than two percent from corporations. It receives over 350,000 individual contributions a year from over 96,000 active recent contributors. Contributions are tax-deductible and greatly appreciated.