Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer’s extensive ties to Big Tech firms have raised the specter that the powerful Democrat has put the brakes on much-sought antitrust legislation being pushed by his own party.
More than 80 former paid staffers of the longtime New York lawmaker have leveraged their time with Schumer to secure prestigious jobs, working directly with companies including Amazon, Facebook, Google and Apple, according to data compiled for The Post.
The information was collected from publicly available filings of congressional staffers on LegiStorm — an online repository of data about congressional staffers and their compensation.
The analysis reviewed approximately 600 former paid Schumer staffers over the last 20 years and cross-referenced their employment history with other publicly available information – including lobbying registration, LinkedIn profiles and company websites – to determine their Big Tech ties.
The data comes as the Senate Judiciary Committee voted in January to move The U.S. Internet Innovation and Choice Act and the Open Marketplace Apps Act forward — but await Schumer’s green light for a full Senate vote.
“Schumer doesn’t want to bring the bills to the floor,” Matt Stoller, an antitrust expert and Director of Research at the American Economic Liberties Project, told The Post. “If he brings them to the floor they’ll pass – if you want to kill this legislation without being overt you’d just stop it from being put up for a vote.”
The Post was first to report that both of Schumer’s daughters are on the payroll of companies Schumer is supposed to be regulating. And the bevy of staffers who have worked alongside Schumer during his many years in Congress only add to the perceived conflict of interest Schumer has when it comes to cracking down on Big Tech.
Jessica Schumer is a registered lobbyist at Amazon, according to New York state records. Alison Schumer works at Facebook as a product marketing manager.
Schumer’s office provided a list to The Post of various actions the senator has taken to protect consumers. They also note one anti-Big Tech FTC Commissioner, Becca Kelly Slaughter, is a former Schumer staffer.
“If The Post wants to run a story about some ‘list’ related to Senator Schumer and tech, start with the one I provided detailing endless consumer wins, tough antitrust policies and legislative actions that defy, disprove and dropkick any notion of ‘outside influence,'” Schumer spokesman Angelo Roefaro said.
The Senate Majority Leader has also been juggling a busy legislative calendar: confirming Ketanji Brown Jackson to the Supreme Court, getting funding to Ukraine, and most recently an effort to codify abortion rights
And Schumer just made good on his promise to get anti-tech progressive Alvaro Bedoya confirmed as the fifth commissioner on the Federal Trade Commission — giving Chairman Lina Khan the majority she needs to reign in tech companies.
In a statement, the senator said the FTC can begin “cracking down on bad actor companies… using anticompetitive practices.”
But others suggest that Schumer may be stalling on bringing the bills to the floor as the midterm elections loom and he doesn’t want to ruffle the feathers of his Big Tech benefactors – some of which have come under fire for repressing free speech and operating as a monopoly.
While Google employees and the company’s PAC have donated approximately $200,000 to Schumer this election cycle according to public filings, a vast majority of donations to Schumer come from dark money — which makes it hard to trace donors.
“Schumer is the only person standing in the way of bipartisan legislation regulating Google, Apple, and Amazon,” a former Senate staffer told The Post. “Given the staffers who work in Big Tech and money he’s raised from Big Tech there are deep concerns as to why he won’t move these bills forward.”
The Internet Innovation and Choice Act — or so-called “non-discrimination bill” — would stop platforms from “self-preferencing” their content. For instance, Amazon would no longer be able to promote its own content over third-party sellers on its e-commerce platform.
The Open Marketplace Apps Act would attempt to minimize Apple and Google’s duopoly on app-makers by giving developers more rights like allowing them to use their own payment processor and letting them contact users directly with various offers.
While many government staffers leave the federal payroll in search of greener pastures, the vast array of staffers leaving Schumer’s office for jobs in Big Tech is unique, sources told The Post. These former aides also have outsized impact on policy now that Schumer is the most powerful man in the Senate, they added.
“That’s definitely a concentration,” Jeff Hauser, founder and director of the Revolving Door Project says of the magnitude of staffers going to big tech jobs.
Hauser suggests David Hantman — Schumer’s former chief of staff who took a top job at Yahoo and Airbnb before opening his own tech lobbying firm, and whose wife was Google’s first in-house lobbyist – may have “served as a gravitational pull” when it came to staffers pursuing tech jobs.
According to sources, Schumer considered nominating Hantman for a commissioner role at the Federal Trade Commission but pulled the plug amid worries he’d receive too much backlash.
Schumer has other notable alums with deep ties to big tech.
Stefanie Martz was Schumer’s chief counsel for five years before taking a job as lobbyist at Monument Policy Group where she’s lobbied for Amazon and Google.
Marisa Hawley, who worked with Schumer from 2019 to 2021, is now a lobbyist with the Information Technology Industry Council, which works on behalf of clients including Google and Amazon.
Daniel Kidera worked as an aide from 2006 to 2008 before becoming a lobbyist. He lobbied on behalf of Meta from 2018 to 2021.
Hauser explains that staffers who take jobs lobbying for tech don’t really leave the nest. In fact they come back to feed the little legislative birdies with information that inform Schumer’s policy.
“With Congressional staff being shriveled, junior staffers are reliant on corporate lobbyists for research,” Hauser notes. “It’s hard to be skeptical of claims when they’re coming from friends and past colleagues.”
Hauser adds that most staffers rely heavily on alumni networks for information about issues in their current roles — and also for help getting a job when they leave Capitol Hill.
“The Hill networks are very powerful and people look out for each others … the fact a lot of people becomes lobbyists creates downsides,” Hauser adds.
To be sure, many of Schumer’s closest aides have stayed with him for decades.
“There are people who have stuck by his side for years — and it’s his inner circle who are on speed dial. Those relationships only come after decades,” a source told The Post.
As recently as 2018, Schumer has said he was “sympathetic” and had been “pretty kind” to tech companies. Schumer has also called Facebook a “very positive force” and an “antidote” to the far right.
“I think [Schumer’s staff] might be underestimating how bad the optics are around his conflicts of interest if he does not put the antitrust bills up for a vote,” a former Schumer aide told The Post.