The Amazon-MGM merger was approved by the Federal Trade Commission last week without fanfare or fight — and antitrust advocates blame New York Senator Chuck Schumer.
The FTC is headed by one of the most aggressive antitrust critics, Lina Khan, but it is stuck between two laissez-faire Republicans, who typically approve mergers, and two pro-regulation Democrats, who typically oppose large mergers.
To reach a deal, Khan and her allies need a 3-2 majority, which they didn’t have because what is likely to be the next FTC commissioner — Alvaro Bedoya — has yet to be put to a Senate vote by Schumer.
And sources say Schumer, who could have put Bedoya up for a vote in December or earlier this month, is dragging his feet in part because he has a conflict of interest when it comes to Amazon: The New York Post was the first to report on Schumer’s daughter reported Jessica Schumer is one registered lobbyist at Amazon, according to New York State records. She did not comment on the Post’s report.
“There was a widespread assumption in the community watching that if Bedoya had been confirmed before the deadline, the Amazon-MGM merger would have been blocked,” an antitrust lawyer told The Post. “Whether the FTC would block the Amazon-MGM merger has always seemed to depend on the timing of Bedoya’s confirmation.”
“Schumer had the call to see if Bedoya was confirmed before the deadline,” the source adds.
Certainly, Schumer balanced other priorities, including passing a $1.5 trillion budget package that included $10 billion in aid to Ukraine.
People close to Schumer note that he has pushed progressives like Khan and the techy head of the Justice Department’s Antitrust Division, Jonathan Kanter. A Schumer spokesman, Angelo Roefaro, told the Post that his boss is not holding up the FTC appointment.
“Senator Schumer’s track record of placing pro-consumer watchdogs in key regulatory positions, along with his support for tough antitrust scrutiny, puts him at the forefront of consumer protection and big business regulation,” he said.
In a statement to The Post, a spokeswoman for Elizabeth Warren praised Schumer’s actions as Majority Leader.
“Leader Schumer is a staunch supporter of Alvaro Bedoya, and I know he is committed to quickly confirming Bedoya as the next FTC commissioner,” the spokeswoman said.
While some in Washington are concerned that the Amazon-MGM deal will curb competition, others believe the deal — valued at less than $10 billion — is nothing to worry about.
But the delay in Bedoya’s nomination comes as critics say Schumer is delaying antitrust legislation. Schumer has previously said he was “sympathetic” to big tech. His other daughter, Alison Schumer, works at Facebook as a product marketing manager.
Schumer is responsible for guiding antitrust laws aimed at cracking down on Big Tech.
Supporters of the legislation fear the tech companies’ ties to Sen. Schumer’s children could create a conflict of interest, people close to the matter said. And they say that Schumer’s family connection to tech companies is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the close ties some congressmen have with the companies.
“When you put together the amount of money, speak [Nancy] Pelosi made the fact that Leader Schumer’s two children work for giant tech companies very difficult for Democrats to explain if important legislation doesn’t move forward in this session,” a Progressive staffer told The Post.
“It’s not just a messaging issue — it also raises significant concerns,” said this person. If you were a judge with a kid working for Facebook, you would withdraw from the case.”
Jeff Hauser, founder and director of the Revolving Door Project, which studies money in politics, said Schumer’s ties to the tech companies are concerning.
“If they’re on opposite sides of the divide, it can cause the public servant’s family member to become too sympathetic to the company that employs their child or family member,” he claimed.
https://nypost.com/2022/03/24/antitrust-insiders-blame-chuck-schumer-for-amazon-mgms-ftc-approval/ Antitrust insiders blame Chuck Schumer for Amazon-MGM’s FTC listing