June 21, 2017

Trump regime has Amazon-Whole Foods conflicts of interest

Intercept - President Donald Trump’s pick to lead the Justice Department’s antitrust division, Makan Delrahim, has worked since 2005 as a lawyer and lobbyist at Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck, a firm that is registered to lobby on behalf of Amazon.

Delrahim, who has worked on merger deals for over a decade and is viewed by legal observers as less likely to pursue aggressive antitrust enforcement as the previous administration, will be in office to review the Amazon-Whole Foods deal soon. He was nominated in March and was been cleared by the Senate Judiciary Committee this month, making his appointment imminent.

Delrahim, however, isn’t the only official with ties to the merger. Abbott Lipsky, appointed in March as the new acting Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Competition, which oversees antitrust, previously worked as a partner in the antitrust division of the law firm Latham & Watkins. Lipsky’s former law firm has been tapped by Whole Foods’ financial adviser, Evercore, to help manage the merger with Amazon, according to Law360.

And finally, Goldman Sachs has stepped up to provide bridge financing for the merger. The investment bank maintains a broad range of connections to multiple officials within the Trump administration, most salient of whom is Gary Cohn, the former chief operating officer of Goldman Sachs. As the chief economics adviser to the president, Cohn will likely weigh in on the contentious merger.

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