UNITED STATES OF AMERICA – FEBRUARY 28: Rep. Lou Correa, D-Calif., walks down the House steps after the final votes of the week on Friday, Feb. 28, 2020.

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Chief of Staff k the new top democrat on the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Antitrust lobbied on behalf Amazon and Apple as recently as 2022, including the issues the rating member will oversee in his new role, CNBC found, based on disclosures.

The background of California Democrat Lou Correa’s top staffer is likely to further upset progressives who have supported efforts to reform the rules of the road around digital competition. René Muñoz has served as Correy’s chief of staff since November 2022 Congress tracking website LegiStorm.

Previously, Muñoz worked at lobbying firm Federal Street Strategies, where his clients included Amazon and Apple, among other corporations, as of May 2020, according to LinkedIn. He previously worked for other Democratic representatives in Congress.

In 2019, when Democrats were in the majority, Rhode Island Democratic Rep. David Cicilline led a major investigation to the competitive practices of Amazon, Apple, Google and Facebookand they hauled their CEOs before Congress. Introduced by a a pack of banknotes limit their power. Correa voted against the legislation.

Rep. Rep. Ken Buck, R-Colo., later became the top Republican on the subcommittee and was a prominent ally of Cicilline in pushing technology antitrust laws. However, once the Republicans took control of the House, Buck was left out and Libertarian Rep. Thomas Massie, R-Ky., was chosen to lead the committee..

The tech industry will likely cheer the move away from antitrust reform advocates like Cicilline and Buck as a reprieve from years of fighting laws they saw as overbroad or disproportionately impacting consumer privacy.

In a statement, Demand Progress communications director Maria Langholz called Corre’s promotion to the role “deeply disappointing.” after his selection was announcedreferring to his opposition to the package of technology antitrust laws championed by Cicillin, who recently left Congress to make room.

It’s “embarrassing that House Democrats failed to step up and fill the void left by Rep. Cicilline’s departure from the subcommittee,” added a spokesperson for the progressive advocacy group.

“The congressman’s chief of staff has spent nearly two decades in public service, most of which have been spent in the halls of Congress,” Correa’s spokesman said in a statement to CNBC, where Muñoz was quoted.

“He has fought tirelessly to serve elected representatives from every corner of the country in their missions to uplift their constituents and improve the lives of every working family. It is because of this unwavering commitment and history of service that Congressman Correa brought him aboard his team – to work after his side in his fight for the hard-working taxpayers he represents right here in Orange County,” the statement read.

What Muñoz lobbied for

Public records show that as late as 2022, Muñoz lobbied Congress in the very areas Correa now oversees.

Correo’s ability to influence the agenda while in the minority is limited, but member ratings can often play an important role in overriding the majority or sending messages to industry and agencies. Some fear that if Democrats take back the House, it will now be harder to replace Correa with a more reform-minded Democrat.

The releases do not say which specific bills Muñoz lobbied for. However, in filings across several quarters, he is listed as one of three lobbyists for Federal Street Strategies who worked on issue areas related to several bills that passed the House Judiciary Committee while Cicilline led the antitrust subcommittee.

For example in second and third quarter of 2021Muñoz is listed as one of three lobbyists who negotiated with Congress on Apple’s behalf in areas related to the six bills that made up Cicilline’s core technology antitrust package. This includes the period around that time the package passed the House Judiciary Committee in June 2021.

Federal Street lobbying disclosures indicate that Muñoz was similarly one of three lobbyists acting on Amazon’s behalf in areas related to these accounts during same time.

Among the bills in the package was the Ending Platform Monopolies Act, which could lead to the breakup of dominant online platforms by prohibiting them from owning lines of business that present a conflict of interest.

They also included the American Choice and Innovation Online Act, which would have prohibited top platforms from favoring their own products over competitors’ or discriminating against competitors in their marketplaces. It was a precursor to the Senate version of the bill that took effect last year leaving the Judiciary Committee in this House. But ultimately failed to reach the floor after that significant technological lobbying.

Again, it’s not clear from the filing what specific bills Muñoz lobbied for.

The tech industry and its trade groups have spent millions lobbying, including for antitrust laws that would restrict key elements of their business models. Apple significantly increased its overall spending on lobbying in 2022, it reached US$9.4 million, a 44% increase compared to the previous year. A fourth-quarter filing showed she lobbied on antitrust laws, as well as online privacy, taxes, semiconductor policy and more.

Amazon spent the most of the tech giants in 2022, coming in at $19.7 million. The e-commerce giant has also lobbied for the tech antitrust authority as well as issues surrounding cloud computing and counterfeit goods.

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