Utah Sen. Mike Lee and Colorado Rep. Ken Buck called Tuesday for further scrutiny into Amazon’s influence in the Department of Defense’s $10 billion Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (JEDI) contract bidding process.
Amazon had strongly pushed for the cloud-computing contract, which was awarded to Microsoft in 2019, flying out Secretary of Defense James Mattis to its Seattle headquarters in August 2017, the Daily Caller News Foundation reported. Buck and Lee issued their statement calling for scrutiny in response to newly released emails which showed Pentagon officials praising Amazon and its former CEO Jeff Bezos during the bidding process, as well as discussing close ties between the company and the Department of Defense (DOD), according to a report by The New York Times.
The DOD canceled the contract with Microsoft last week, with both Microsoft and Amazon now eligible to bid for the new contract. (RELATED: ‘Watching Us 24-7’: Amazon’s New AI Surveillance Program Prompts Employee Backlash)
Joint statement with @SenMikeLee:
— Rep. Ken Buck (@RepKenBuck) July 13, 2021
“It’s becoming more and more clear that Amazon used its market power and paid-for connections to circumvent ethical boundaries and avoid competition in an attempt to win this contract,” Lee and Buck said jointly in the statement Tuesday.
The newly released emails showed Sally Donnelly, former senior advisor to Mattis, praising Bezos as a “genius of our age” and mentioning that Amazon hired many former intelligence agents, according to the NYT. Donnelly also mentioned that Bezos’s ownership of The Washington Post gave him “influence beyond the business world.”
Donnelly’s consulting firm SBD Advisors had previously consulted for Amazon Web Services, Amazon’s cloud-computing division, an investigation by the DCNF revealed.
“Now, more than ever, we need to ask Amazon, under oath, whether it tried to improperly influence the largest federal contract in history,” Buck and Lee said.
The lawmakers had previously called for an investigation into the JEDI bidding process in May, writing letters to the DOD, Amazon and the Department of Justice that highlighted conflicts of interest such as that of Donnelly. An investigation by the DOD’s inspector general that concluded in August 2020 found the outcome of the contract was not affected by the ties between Amazon and the DOD.
Amazon did not immediately respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.
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