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WATCH: Pressed By Rep. Gaetz, Jeff Bezos Admits Southern Poverty Law Center Flawed, Wants Better Source For Amazon
Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) looks on during the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Antitrust, Commercial and Administrative Law hearing on Online Platforms and Market Power in the Rayburn House office Building, July 29, 2020 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC.
Graeme Jennings-Pool/Getty Images

On Wednesday, Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) pressed billionaire Jeff Bezos, CEO and founder of Amazon and owner of The Washington Post, about AmazonSmile’s reliance on left-wing Southern Poverty Law Center and their “hate group” lists.

Amazon uses the SPLC’s designations, and relies on other originations, to choose their acceptable charities for AmazonSmile, a program that allows customers to pick a charity for Amazon to donate to.

The SPLC, ostensibly a civil rights organization, has smeared mainstream conservatives, such as U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Dr. Ben Carson, former U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, and religious liberty organization Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF).

Bezos shocked Gaetz, admitting that the left-wing group is flawed and saying that he would like to find a better source for the company to rely on.

“You don’t believe Dr. Ben Carson is an extremist, do you?” Gaetz asked Bezos, referring to the SPLC’s sliming of Carson.

“No, sir,” Bezos answered, “I don’t.”

“So, help me understand why you would partner with a group that labels him as someone worthy of an extremist watchlist,” Gaetz pressed.

“We’re trying to make it possible for people to donate to any number of, from millions of different charities, and we need to have some sort of data to use,” Bezos responded. “And, while I accept what you’re saying, that the Southern Poverty Law Center … [is] not perfect — and I would like a better source if we could get it — that is what we use today.”

“That’s breaking news,” Gaetz said, noting that he was pleased with Bezos’ admission that the SPLC has major “infirmities.”

“I’m going to acknowledge this is an imperfect system,” Bezos added of the company’s reliance on the SPLC. “I would love suggestions on better or additional sources for how to … ”

“My suggestion is that you divorce from the SPLC,” Gaetz said.

Gaetz similarly asked Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg about his company’s supposed reliance on the left-wing group, but he said he did not believe his company uses the group.

“No, congressman,” Zuckerberg told Gaetz regarding whether he thought Carson was an “extremist.” The Facebook CEO added, “I’m not aware of where we work with the organization that you’re saying.”

In April, the SPLC complained of Facebook’s supposed “spotty and ineffective” “strategy” for “taking down” so-called “hate groups.”

ADF, which has long been smeared as a “hate group” by the SPLC over its religious liberty work, was pleased with the admission from Bezos and is hoping the massive company will actually make the changes the CEO claims to want.

“Our hope would be that it finally impresses upon Amazon the importance to fix this problem which they’ve now heard about for a very long period of time,” ADF vice president of advocacy Jeremy Tedesco told The Washington Times. “At some point, they’re going to get the message and make a change.”

In June, National Review slammed Amazon for relying on the SPLC:

For those who do not know, the SPLC is a legal-advocacy organization that tries to police the Overton Window of acceptable discourse in the United States,” National Review outlined. “They are notorious for their famous list of ‘hate groups,’ which names nonprofits like the Alliance Defending Freedom and the American College of Pediatricians alongside groups like the Ku Klux Klan and the Nation of Islam.

The SPLC’s promiscuous proclivity for damning any group or individual to the right of Samantha Bee on social issues now restricts the ability of Amazon’s customers to donate to nonprofit organizations of their choice. It’s somewhat baffling that Amazon would choose to place their flagship charitable enterprise under the yoke of the SPLC given that its reputation has been in free-fall for some time, and not only in the eyes of those on the right. The nonprofit watchdog CharityWatch gives the SPLC an F, its lowest grade, on account of the fact that it has over six and a half years worth of available assets in reserve. Philanthropy Roundtable, another nonprofit-monitoring group, has this to say about the group’s financial structure.


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