As we creep closer to November’s election, Democratic politicians–progressives and moderates alike–have largely fallen in line behind presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden. Even so, Biden must earn the vote of many progressive voters who are wary of his pro-corporate leanings. While Biden showed promise by teaming up with Sanders’ campaign on policy, there is still cause for grave concern. Just last week, the public learned that Larry Summers was advising the Biden campaign. Last month Biden’s donors put out a list of ideal candidates for senior-level administration positions, which included Wall Street big wigs such as BlackRock CEO Laurence Fink, Blackstone executive Tony James, and investment banker Mark Gallogly. Biden’s wealthy donors must be monitored in order to prevent corporate interests from capturing his transition-planning effort.
One particular area of concern is Biden’s connection with big tech companies, particularly those that have contracted with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). According to FEC data, executives from these companies, which include Amazon, Google, and Microsoft, have donated over $75,000 to Biden’s campaign. Many of them are also bundlers, meaning they have helped raise an additional $25,000+ for the campaign.
In 2018, immigration advocacy organization Mijente published a report on technology corporations that contracted with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). The report found that an Amazon subsidiary was a “key contractor” for DHS’s transfer of data to cloud storage. AWS also contracts with state law enforcement agencies that “[share] information with DHS by various means,” according to the report. Although AWS has faced growing criticism over its contracts with law enforcement, AWS CEO Andy Jassy defended its sale of facial recognition technology to the government and even said he would sell the technology to foreign governments.
Its cloud storage services aren’t the only product Amazon is pitching to law enforcement agencies. The tech company also marketed its facial recognition software to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and other law enforcement agencies to help the agencies track and identify immigrants and those who have committed crimes. Amazon’s facial recognition software has faced scrutiny after it incorrectly matched the faces of 28 Congressmembers with people who had been arrested for a crime.
Despite Amazon’s ties to law enforcement and ICE, Biden’s campaign has accepted over $20,000 from the tech company’s executives. In addition to personally donating $2,800 to Biden, Amazon General Counsel David Zapolsky is a bundler, meaning he has helped raise at least $25,000 for the campaign (in past presidential cycles bundlers have routinely brought in in excess of $500,000 for candidates).
Microsoft, like Amazon, has a contract with DHS for its cloud migration services through its subsidiary, Microsoft Azure. The company faced backlash from its staff members after it announced the contract, but simply responded that it was “proud” to support ICE’s work. It has been reported that Microsoft has contracts with ICE worth over $8 million.
In addition to its DHS connection, in 2015 Microsoft pitched a machine learning software to law enforcement agencies that could help predict whether an incarcerated person would commit a crime in the future. This type of “crime prevention” tool raised concerns about racial biases in policing.
Biden has accepted over $30,000 in donations from Microsoft executives. According to FEC data, Microsoft President Brad Smith and former President Jon Shirley have both donated $2,800 to the campaign and have additionally brought in over $25,00 in donations from their networks.
Google also appears to be cozying up to DHS. Last year, the company offered Customs and Border Protection (CBP) use of one of its cloud services free of charge. In addition, US Citizen and Immigration Services (USCIS) has paid nearly $750,000 to use Google’s cloud services. Google executives, including former Google CEO Eric Schmidt, have in total donated over $20,000 to Biden’s campaign.
Below is a complete list of executives of technology firms who have contracted with federal immigration agencies. Highlighted names indicate bundlers.
|Guy Palumbo||Amazon||Director of Public Policy for Seattle||$1,000.00|
|Doug Herrington||Amazon||Senior Vice President||$2,800.00|
|Babak Parviz||Amazon||Vice President||$2,800.00|
|Kathryn Thomson||Amazon||Vice President and Associate General Counsel||$2,800.00|
|Michael Deal||Amazon||Operations Manager||$2,800.00|
|Kathryn Sheehan||Amazon||Vice President and Associate General Counsel, Business Conduct & Ethics||$5,600.00|
|Jay Carney||Amazon||Spokesman and Senior Vice President of Global Corporate Affairs||$2,866.00|
|David Zapolsky||Amazon||Senior Vice President, General Counsel, and Secretary||$2,800.00|
|Cassidy Morgan||Global Director, Brand Strategy & Insights||$2,800.00|
|Thomas Ranese||Vice President, Global Hardware Marketing||$1,000.00|
|Donald Harrison||President, Global Partnerships and Corporate Development||$2,800.00|
|Chrissy Seib||Director, Global Shopping||$2,800.00|
|Jonathan Eccles||Senior Product Manager||$2,800.00|
|Vinton Cerf||Vice President and Chief Internet Evangelist||$4,700.00|
|Kiran Paranjpe||Head of Sports, Global Partnerships||$2,800.00|
|Eric Schmidt||Former CEO and Executive Chairman||$2,800.00|
|Michael Ford||Microsoft||Head of Global Real Estate and Security||$1,000.00|
|Corey Sanders||Microsoft||Corporate Vice President||$250.00|
|Celeste Alleyne||Microsoft||Director, Citizenship & Public Affairs||$2,800.00|
|Scott Guthrie||Microsoft||Executive Vice President||$2,800.00|
|John Frank||Microsoft||Vice President||$2,800.00|
|Melvin Flowers||Microsoft||Former Vice President||$2,800.00|
|Judson Althoff||Microsoft||Executive Vice President||$2,800.00|
|Mary Snapp||Microsoft||Corporate Vice President and Lead for Microsoft Philanthropies||$2,800.00|
|Michael Mattmiller||Microsoft||Director, Government Affairs||$2,801.00|
|Bradford “Brad” Smith||Microsoft||President and CLO||$2,800.00|
|Jon Shirley||Microsoft||Former President, Chief Operating Officer, and Director||$2,800.00|
|Kimberly “Kim” Shirley||Microsoft||Spouse of Jon Shirley||$2,800.00|
|Michaela Berendt||Microsoft||Business Operations Associate||$250.00|