Democrats Urge Antitrust Action Against Amazon Over Whole Foods Deal

Tyler Durden's picture

In the wake of their embarrassing electoral defeat in November, Congressional Democrats are turning against the wealthy tech benefactors who bankroll their campaigns. To wit, a group of 12 Democratic Congressman have signed a letter urging the Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission to conduct a more in-depth review of e-commerce giant Amazon.com Inc.'s plan to buy grocer Whole Foods Market Inc., according to Reuters.

Rumblings that Amazon is engaging in monopolistic business practices resurfaced last week when the top Democrat on the House antitrust subcommittee, David Civilline, voiced concerns about Amazon's $13.7 billion plan to buy Whole Foods Market and urged the House Judiciary Committee to hold a hearing to examine the deal's potential impact on consumers.

Making matters worse for the retailer, Reuters reported earlier this week that the FTC is investigating the company for allegedly misleading customers about its pricing discounts, citing a source close to the probe.

The letter is at least third troubling sign that lawmakers are turning against Amazon, even as President Donald Trump has promised to roll back regulations, presumably making it easier for megamergers like the AMZN-WFM tieup to proceed.

So far, it’s mostly Democrats who are urging the FTC to take “a closer look” at the deal. However, some suspect that Amazon founder Jeff Bezo’s ownership of the Washington Post – a media outlet that has published dozens of embarrassing stories insinuating that Trump and his compatriots colluded with Russia to help defeat Democrat Hillary Clinton – could hurt the company’s chances of successfully completing the merger, as its owner has earned the enmity of president Trump. Similar concerns have dogged CNN-owner Time Warner’s pending merger with telecoms giant AT&T.

In the letter, the group of Democratic lawmakers – which includes rumored presidential hopeful Cory Booker, the junior senator from New Jersey – worried that the merger could negatively impact low-income communities. By putting other grocers out of business, the Amazon-backed WFM could worsen the problem of “food deserts,” areas where residents may have limited access to fresh groceries.

"While we do not oppose the merger at this time, we are concerned about what this merger could mean for African-American communities across the country already suffering from a lack of affordable healthy food choices from grocers," the letter said on Thursday.

In the hopes of changing Whole Foods’ “whole paycheck” image, Amazon has lobbied Congress to be able to accept food stamps online, and is participating in a pilot program to “expand access” to fresh food in impoverished communities. You can read the letter in full below:

Brian Huseman, Amazon's vice president of policy, in a letter to Fudge, tried to placate the angry Democrats by assuring them that Amazon intends to address their concerns.

"'We agree with you that access to food is an important issue for the country, and we share your goal of improving that access,' Huseman said in the letter.

 

'We deliver low-cost, healthy food to zip codes across the country that before Amazon had limited access to a large selection of high quality foods,' Huseman wrote to Fudge.

Huseman also disputed claims that Amazon is anti-competitive, pointing out that Wal-Mart has a larger market share, and added that the company doesn’t plan on laying off workers…despite widely touting its plans to rely on automation – including special sensors and artificial intelligence – to eliminate the need for cashiers in it brick-and-mortar grocers.

“Amazon has sought to dispute that it would monopolize the grocery industry. Wal-Mart Stores Inc currently controls the largest market share.

 

‘We also do not plan job reductions as part of the acquisition, which if approved would result in a company with a combined less than 3 percent of national grocery sales,’ Huseman wrote.”

The letter was released to the public by the United Food and Commercial Workers union, which praised the Democrats plans to fight back against a merger that will likely result (despite Huseman’s claims to the contrary) in a sharp reduction in its membership base.

“Political concerns about Amazon’s acquisition of Whole Foods are growing for good reason,” UFCW President Marc Perrone said on Friday. “Amazon’s monopolistic desire to control the retail market and replace good jobs with automation is not only a direct threat to the hard-working men and women at Whole Foods, it’s also a direct threat to our economy and consumers."

Amazon and Whole Foods hope to expand access to fresh food, said Brian Huseman, Amazon's vice president of policy, in a letter to Fudge, also on Thursday.

"We agree with you that access to food is an important issue for the country, and we share your goal of improving that access," Huseman said in the letter.

So far, any negative impact on Amazon’s shares has been minimal as the broader market remains in rally mode. On Friday, the Nasdaq fell after rising for nine straight days – stopping just shy of what would’ve been its longest winning streak in years.
 

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Rick Cerone's picture

Democrats are full of shit. Stop taking campaign contributions from Amazon? NEVER!

CheapBastard's picture

They're just trying to extort more $$$ from bezos, that's all.

vato poco's picture

dems 2015: yay bezos for saving the almighty holy WaPo!!!

dems 2017: fuck bezos for wanting to make more money!!!!

bezos isn't a stupid guy ... wonder if he's beginning to rethink this whole 'dems are the cool kids'  thing. or who knows: maybe he just enjoys being shat upon?

Scrimpy's picture

 Jewff Bezos isn't going to like that....besides the jews who own the FED run the country, not the Dimocraps

Four chan's picture

DEMS RUN SHAKEDOWN ON JEW. OH THE IRONY.

overbet's picture

Their are only concern is regarding 13% of the population that accounts for a negative % of production in the country? 

CheapBastard's picture

<< Their are only concern is regarding 13% of the population that accounts for a negative % of production in the country...>>

 

...and 87% of the violent crime.

TahoeBilly2012's picture

Sheeit what's negro complaining about, u get ur EBT munchies flown in by a drone....y'all better think here, the Merican' dream is almost here and it's free.

Laowei Gweilo's picture

Why are poor people shopping at Whole Foods to begin with?!

TeamDepends's picture

What they are really concerned about is if Amazon Foods will concentrate most shoppers on one side of Guam and tip it over.

azusgm's picture

Probably cheaper than the convenience stores with the burglar bars.

GUS100CORRINA's picture

Democrats Urge Antitrust Action Against Amazon Over Whole Foods Deal

My response: ROFL!!!! If the DEMOCRATS get ahold of this one, BEZOS can kiss his 190+ P/E ratio on his stock GOOD BUY!!!!! SELL, SELL, SELL!!!! This may be the point where BEZOS suddenly becomes a supporter of President TRUMP once he realizes that the DEMOCRATS are NOT his friend!!! 

Would not that be a kick in the ass?

Son of Loki's picture

Maybe the "Amazon Post" will tone down their constant attacks on our president.

I hope so.

Yen Cross's picture

 I think you've got the conversation reversed?

 The fed wants to get paid back.

Mine Is Bigger's picture

we are concerned about what this merger could mean for African-American communities across the country already suffering from a lack of affordable healthy food choices from grocers,"

Such an outrageously racist comment. And they criticize Trump for being a racist!

AtATrESICI's picture

Going for the trifecta.

He who owns a majority stake in the NYT is the Obama Phone pimp.

He who owns the WPo seeks control of the Snap funds

He who controls the street drugs market / employment loop controls / owns both of the bitches above.

Michael Musashi's picture

Whole Foods in Baltimore is literally right down the street from a ghetto. You cannot walk near Whole Foods there at night. The statement is ridiculous. Trust me, the people in that ghetto don't buy organic anything, not even weed--the synthetic is cheaper.

fajensen's picture

The deal is that they want to take those campaign contributions away from Hillary and get in the trough themselves! 

AlexCharting's picture

Bezos spends tons of money supporting dems. through Washington Post, and this is how they repay him? I LOVE IT :D

Haitian Snackout's picture

So blacks shop at whole paycheck? Don't really know as I don't shop there. Never saw any at T Joes though that I can remember. WTF? 

NoWayJose's picture

Not many Whole Foods in Ferguson, east Baltimore, south Chicago, etc -- guess you don't need a place that cooks food when the residents keep 'cooking' C-stores, restaurants and police cars.

Haitian Snackout's picture

Well I just kind of assumed that they stuck to wealthier neighborhoods. When the Mexican stores became more common back in the 90's I rarely saw any whites or blacks in them. In fact the employees and customers would often stare at me. Like what is this gringo doing here? Hey, I'm buying some soda with sugar. 

Canary Paint's picture

Yeah... Where the hell else can we buy fresh and hot chicharon? Greatest snack food on the face of the planet...

Haitian Snackout's picture

I try not to eat it too often. Damn good with beer though!

I am Jobe's picture

AMZn will offer Hookers to CONgress that will dhut em up . Lots of desperate college girls and boys 

runswithscissors's picture

The zionist traitors who infest DC don't need the evil bezos jew to provide them with boy and girls to molest...they get'em straight from the klinton foundation

vato poco's picture

you realize bezos ain't a jew, right?

TBT or not TBT's picture

With  these types it's jews all the way down.  

Crash N. Burn's picture

"we are concerned about what this merger could mean for African-American communities across the country"

BULLSHIT!

Pin the Tale on the Donkey: Democrats' Horrible Racist Past | Bill Whittle

 


VWAndy's picture

 Antitrust the DNC first. Then the medical industry.

CheapBastard's picture

I am surprised the outcry and lobbying from the other grocers like Korger is not fiercer. One needs to have strong DC presence these days even if you are a grocery chain. That's as important as good food and service 'cause politicans don't care about food quality or safety, only how much the lobbyists line their pockets.

 

Tell me again about those rats dropping from the ceiling onto people's food at Chipotle's.

 

Chipotle's stock is tanking on reports of rats, norovirus at its restaurants

 

 

http://www.cnbc.com/2017/07/20/rodents-reportedly-fall-from-ceiling-of-d...

 

AtATrESICI's picture

Rat are dinner in various areas around the world.

http://archive.is/RfK6p

After Jeff gets finished destroying the grocery business a rat dinner could be looking pretty good.

CheapBastard's picture

Perhaps served as "Rat Tartar"...certainly a delicacy in the upscale Ferguson and South Chicago neighborhoods:

 

https://njmonthly.com/wp-content/uploads/cache/2014/07/Steak_Tartare/174...

AtATrESICI's picture

5 ways you know you’re eating rat meat

 

http://archive.is/ytQTV

monoloco's picture

"Chipotle's stock is tanking on reports of rats, norovirus at its restaurants"

They're just trying to be "auténtico."

overbet's picture

Rats are a delicacy in some Asian countries. 

CheapBastard's picture

Can Chipotle then be sued for "cultural appropriation?"

New_Meat's picture

That suit will be in the rear of the train of other suits ;0

Son of Loki's picture

Yeah, I guess the estates of Chipolte casualties will be sueing for wrongful death from e coli, rat poisoning and so on.

Aerows's picture

Rats aren't nearly as bad as roaches.  If you find one roach anywhere, you can be sure there a 100 more you didn't see.

PhiBetaZappa's picture

Sounds like Amazon isn't answering those 'contribution'/ extortion request letters from their favorite poltihos.

Mena Arkansas's picture

Bezos was last seen cutting a check for $3.2M to the DNC.

Infinite QE's picture

Who in their right mind would open any kind of business in a nigga neighborhood?? Robbed, knived and left for dead in aisle eight? No thank you.

CheapBastard's picture
We tried Amazon and Blue Apron's meal kits side by side
  • Amazon is taking on Blue Apron with its own meal kit, and it's being tested in Seattle.
  • In our test, Amazon's kit was easier to assemble and cook, but Blue Apron's tasted better and was more nutritional.
  • Conclusion: Amazon is selling meal kits for dummies. Blue Apron is selling meal kits for foodies. There may be room for both.

 

http://www.cnbc.com/2017/07/21/amazon-meal-kit-vs-blue-apron-review.html

besnook's picture

there is a huge market for dumbasses of every color, ethnicity and religion but how many are dumb enough to order meal kits?

DEMIZEN's picture

i would order sous vide kits.

Son of Loki's picture

Americans are getting dumber by the hour. So don't underestimate the demand for this shit. Look at the guy who made a fortune selling "pet rocks."