Amazon, Facebook and Google donated tens of thousands of dollars in the second half of 2021 to Democrats who have voiced strong reservations about major antitrust legislation under consideration on Capitol Hill.

During that time, these companies have largely declined to contribute to the lawmakers leading the bipartisan charge to revamp U.S. antitrust laws, including Rep. David Cicilline, D-R.I., and Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., some of whom have sworn off such donations.

The political givings arrive at a crucial time as proponents of the effort push to grow their coalition before the midterm elections this fall bog down legislative action in Washington. One of their biggest obstacles is skeptical moderate Democrats.

That includes several prominent California Democrats in the House and Senate who have expressed concerns that the bills are too narrowly focused on massive American technology companies, including ones like Facebook and Google that hail from their home state.

The donations arrive as the tech giants and their industry groups have unleashed a massive lobbying blitz in Washington to oppose the bills. The efforts include releasing a bevy of digital ads and having top executives like Apple chief executive Tim Cook call lawmakers to voice their concerns.

The flurry of antitrust proposals under consideration include a bill to block the tech giants from favoring their goods over products from their competitors, one to make it harder for them to scoop up threatening rivals, and another to make it easier for regulators to sue to break them up.


Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif., has emerged as one of their biggest detractors, voting against all those proposals at a House markup last June and arguing that some of the bills would “blow up the tech economy.”

“They’re really breakup bills,” she told me at the time.

In the months since, Lofgren and other California Democrats who spoke out against the bills received tens of thousands of dollars in donations from the political action committees of Amazon, Facebook and Google.

Amazon, one of the main targets of legislative antitrust efforts, donated $5,000 to Lofgren and $1,000 apiece to Democratic Reps. Ted Lieu and Lou Correa, according to disclosure filings reviewed by The Technology 202. (Amazon founder Jeff Bezos owns The Washington Post.)

The Meta PAC donated $2,500 each to Lofgren, Lieu and Democratic Rep. Eric Swalwell (D), and $2,000 to Correa during the second half of 2021. Meta chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg, one of the most prominent leaders of the Silicon Valley firm, individually doled out $2,900 for Lofgren.

The Google PAC gave $5,000 to Lofgren and $1,000 to Democratic Rep. Karen Bass.

All of the lawmakers either voted against or voiced strong objections to the House antitrust bills targeting tech companies during and after the markup session last year.


In a statement after the session, Bass said that while she voted for a number of the bills to advance out of committee, she still had concerns and did so “with the understanding that the sponsors will respond to concerns raised before and during the committee vote.”

Apple, another company targeted by the legislative proposals, does not have a PAC.

The three other tech giants also donated to moderate Democrats not from California who have criticized some of the proposals, including the bill to ban “self-preferencing” by the companies that advanced out of a Senate panel last month.

That includes Sens. Christopher Coons, D-Del., and Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., who, along with California Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Alex Padilla, both Democrats, voted to pass the bill out of committee, but not without first casting doubt on whether they would support it on the Senate floor. Amazon donated $5,000 to Coons and $1,500 Leahy, and Meta donated $2,500 to Coons.

“If the conduct this bill seeks to prevent is unfair and improper, I believe that conduct should be prevented from anyone who engages in it, not only a small handful of companies,” Feinstein said at the markup led by Cicilline and Klobuchar.

Another recipient of political donations from the tech giants was the centrist New Democrat Coalition and its leader, Rep. Suzan DelBene, D-Calif., who last year called on House leaders to pump the brakes on the antitrust legislation.


The New Democrat Coalition got $5,000 from both Google and Amazon, while DelBene received $2,000 from Meta. Amazon has also given a total of nearly $95,000 to members of the coalition, according to a recent report by Politico.

But the companies have also donated to a few lawmakers leading the antitrust efforts.

Amazon and Google donated to Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, who with Klobuchar is leading the bill aimed at blocking tech giants from prioritizing their goods, to the tune of $4,000 and $1,500, respectively. Amazon also donated $3,000 to Sen. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., who is leading a bipartisan bill to crack down on Apple and Google to loosen their grips on their app stores.

Microsoft, another tech giant that could be targeted by some of the bills but has allied with Cicilline and Klobuchar on other antitrust efforts, donated more evenly between proponents and critics of the bills.

The Microsoft PAC gave $2,500 apiece to Lofgren and Padilla plus $1,000 to Swalwell. It also gave to Grassley, Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., and Rep. Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y. Grassley and Blumenthal got $5,000, while Nadler got $4,000.

Nadler chairs the committee that advanced the slate of tech antitrust bills last June, while Blumenthal is a sponsor on the “self-preferencing bill” and one of the lead sponsors with Blackburn on the app store bill.

Meanwhile, Reid Hoffman, one of the founders of LinkedIn who also serves on the board of Microsoft, donated $2,900 to Lofgren, and Microsoft president Brad Smith donated $2,900 to DelBene.