Tuesday, 24 September 2019 11:41

Anti-Amazon non-profit funded by retailer's rivals: report Featured

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Anti-Amazon non-profit funded by retailer's rivals: report Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

A non-profit that has been critical of the business practices of giant US retailer Amazon, and claims to have grassroots support for average Americans, is funded by some of the company's main corporate rivals, a report claims.

The Wall Street Journal said the non-profit Free and Fair Markets Initiative had cited support from a union, a management professor in Boston and a businessman in California.

But the newspaper found that the financial backers of FFMI included shopping centre owner Simon Property Group, well-known retailer Walmart and software firm Oracle.

Simon Property is battling to keep customers who had been drifting over to Amazon, Walmart is a retail competitor to Amazon, while Oracle is competing against Amazon to win a US$10 billion defence contract.

The report said the union was listed as a supporter of FFMI without granting permission to do so, and a letter that claimed to have given permission contained a forged signature.

The Boston academic said the FFMI had ghost-written an op-ed about Amazon in his name but he was unaware that he had been named as a member of the group.

And the businessman in question had been dead for months before his name was take off the FFMI website.

The WSJ said FFMI had refused to say from where it was getting its funds or to identify its office-bearers.

“The bottom line is that FFMI is focusing on the substantive issues and putting a spotlight on the way companies like Amazon undermine the public good — something that media outlets, activists, and politicians in both parties are also doing with increasing frequency,” the organisation told the newspaper in a statement.

“If Amazon cannot take the heat, then it should stay out of the kitchen.”

FFMI is run by communications outfit Marathon Strategies which was founded by political operative Phil Singer. He has been an aide to US Senator Chuck Schumer and worked on Hillary Clinton's 2008 bid for the Democrat presidential nomination.

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Sam Varghese

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Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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