Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, responsible for shepherding antitrust bills aimed at cracking down on Big Tech, has a major conflict of interest problem: both of his children are employed by the very companies he’s supposed to be reining in, according to the New York Post.
Jessica Schumer’s New York state records list her as a registered lobbyist at Amazon, while Alison Schumer works at Facebook as a product marketing manager.
Fear of a conflict of interest arising from the tech giants’ ties to Schumer’s children has sparked concerns among advocates of the anti-trust legislation. Sources close to the matter told On the Money that Schumer’s familial connections to Big Tech are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the cozy relationships some members of Congress share with the firms.
“When you put together the amount of money Speaker [Nancy] Pelosi made off tech with the fact that leader Schumer’s two kids work for giant tech companies, Democrats are going to have a very hard time explaining if major legislation doesn’t move forward this session,” said one progressive operative.
“It’s not just a messaging problem,” the source continued. “It also raises substantive concerns. If you were a judge with a kid who worked for Facebook, you’d recuse yourself from the case.”
Impartiality may soon be put to the test on the so-called “non-discrimination bill” that would stop platforms from “self-preferencing” their content. Under this, for example, Amazon would no longer be able to promote its own content over third-party sellers on its e-commerce platform.
The bill could be introduced as early as this week. It is currently under review by the Senate Judiciary Committee, and, assuming it makes it out of committee markup, it could be put to vote in the coming weeks.
Schumer has yet to signal his stance on the legislation or disclosed when he could introduce it.
A source close to Schumer indicated that, though the legislation is still in committee markup, the senator “will back it once that process completes.”
As Senate Majority Leader, Schumer holds the power to decide what bills get put up for a vote.
Angelo Refaro, a spokesman for Schumer, downplayed the apparent conflicts of interest in a comment to On the Money, claiming there is “no basis” for the narrative of the story. “Sen. Schumer is championing these issues both legislatively and with his appointments to federal agencies. He will fight for action and success that delivers a fairer and more innovative playing field for all,” Roefaro said.
Still, Jeff Hauser, founder and director of the Revolving Door Project, which looks at money in politics, said Schumer’s ties to the tech companies are cause for concern.
“When they are on opposite sides of the divide, it can make the public servant member of the family too sympathetic to the company that employs their child or family member,” he contended.
Representatives of Facebook and Amazon did not respond to requests for comments.
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