Attorney General Tom Miller
The National Association of Attorneys General
1850 M Street NW 12th Floor
Washington, DC 20036
Dear President-Elect Miller,
Promoting robust competition between businesses is among the core responsibilities of state attorneys general. We were encouraged to see that the District of Columbia Attorney General’s Office recently filed an amended complaint that expands on its ongoing lawsuit against Amazon, now addressing the dominance the company gains from its relationships with wholesale suppliers along with its monopoly power over third-party seller pricing contracts.
With this in mind, we urge you as leader of the National Association of Attorneys General to marshal support among state attorneys general to follow suit and more closely consider ways to address Amazon’s growing power.
Amazon’s online marketplace has allowed the company to grow in a matter of years into a formidable threat to American small businesses, including the merchants on its own site that are unable to sell their products anywhere else. Amazon has leveraged its position to become the world’s largest online retailer, amassing control of as much as 70 percent of all online market sales by some estimates.
While much of the company’s dominance can be attributed to the growth of its third-party marketplace, District of Columbia Attorney General Karl Racine’s decision to expand the lawsuit into first-party sellers suggests that other aspects of Amazon’s operations must also be put under the microscope.
These recent revelations underscore the urgent need for state attorneys general, regardless of political affiliation, to work together in preventing one of our nation’s largest technology firms from using its monopoly power to stifle competition. As the amended complaint demonstrates, Amazon’s ability to manipulate prices across the e-commerce landscape shows that offering the lowest prices is not necessarily indicative of benefitting consumers if it comes at the expense of fair competition.
Nationwide, state attorneys general have been probing Amazon for evidence of anti-competitive conduct. In addition to the District of Columbia, attorneys general from Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, California, New York, and Washington have been examining whether to charge Amazon with antitrust violations, and identifying ways to collaborate in their inquiries.
State attorneys general should continue to lead the charge in holding America’s most dominant firms accountable. The recent letter authored by more than 30 state attorneys general urging Congress to pass sweeping antitrust legislation was a tremendous first step. But these efforts to hold monopolistic actors accountable must not stop at the federal level. Given its dominant marketplace position, Amazon must be specifically included in any future state probes, as well as subsequent lawsuits, that aim to shine a light on the company’s anti-competitive practices.
Thank you for your attention to this urgent issue.
The Free & Fair Markets Initiative
CC: The National Association of Attorneys General President Karl Racine