Amazon’s $1.5 million political gambit backfires in Seattle Metropolis Council election


SEATTLE (Information) – Seattle voters, in a rebuke to heavy company marketing campaign spending by, have stored progressives firmly accountable for their metropolis council, reviving possibilities for a tax on large companies that the tech large helped fend off final 12 months.

FILE PHOTO: Jeff Bezos, founding father of Amazon and Blue Origin speaks through the JFK House Summit, celebrating the 50th anniversary of the moon touchdown, on the John F. Kennedy Library in Boston, Massachusetts, U.S., June 19, 2019. Information/Katherine Taylor/File Picture

Amazon poured a file $1.5 million right into a Tremendous PAC run by the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce to again a slate of candidates within the Nov. 5 council elections considered as pro-business, or at the least extra company pleasant than the incumbent council majority.

Amazon, the world’s main on-line retailer whose chief govt is billionaire entrepreneur Jeff Bezos, accounted for greater than half of almost $2.7 million raised by the Tremendous PAC, a bunch allowed to just accept limitless sums from rich donors in help of their favourite candidates. 4 years in the past, Amazon donated $25,000.

By comparability, labor unions spent greater than $1 million on the council race.

The unprecedented degree of spending in a Seattle municipal race drew nationwide consideration, with Democratic presidential candidates Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders accusing Amazon of attempting to purchase the council.

The result for a lot of the seven council seats at stake in Tuesday’s election was too near name till Friday evening, when a tally of 97 % of votes solid confirmed that progressive candidates had received 5 of the seats, together with two incumbents.

Considered one of them was Kshama Sawant, a self-described socialist and Amazon’s fiercest critic on the council, whose re-election bid was seen because the bellwether contest.

Simply two of the seven candidates endorsed by Amazon and different firms by means of the chamber’s Tremendous Pac emerged winners, one in all them an incumbent.

The general progressive stability of the nine-seat council was little modified. Two different seats come up for re-election in 2021.


“The election outcomes are a repudiation of the billionaire class, company actual property, and the institution,” Sawant stated at a press convention on Saturday, flanked by supporters holding a “Tax Amazon” banner.

Sawant led the council in Could 2018 in approving a brand new per-employee “head tax” on 500 of the town’s largest firms, aimed toward combating a housing disaster attributed partly to a neighborhood financial growth that has pushed up actual property prices.

The tax was designed to lift at the least $45 million a 12 months to construct extra reasonably priced housing and assist help a homeless inhabitants that’s the third-largest of any U.S. metropolitan space.

The measure handed the council unanimously, regardless of threats from Amazon, Seattle’s largest employer, to freeze deliberate expansions within the metropolis.

However simply 4 weeks later, the council repealed the tax altogether within the face of a well-financed marketing campaign by Amazon and different companies to mount a referendum drive in opposition to the measure.

On Saturday, Sawant characterised the most recent election as a referendum on the top tax and pledged to pursue the coverage with the brand new council.

Its backers argue that Seattle’s greatest companies ought to contribute to easing a scarcity of low-cost housing they helped create by means of an over-heated actual property market that left many working poor and middle-class households unable to afford to dwell within the metropolis.

Opponents have branded the measure a “tax on jobs” that will spark an financial backlash.

Company response to the election final result was muted.

FILE PHOTO: Seattle Metropolis Councilmember Kshama Sawant speaks in entrance of the Amazon Spheres throughout a protest to demand that the town of Seattle tax the most important companies to assist fund reasonably priced housing, in line with organizers, in Seattle, Washington, U.S., April 10, 2018. Information/Lindsey Wasson/File Picture

“The enterprise neighborhood stands able to work with the brand new Seattle Metropolis Council,” the PAC’s director, Markham McIntyre, stated in a press release on Friday. “How our native authorities chooses to companion – or create division – issues.”

On Wednesday, earlier than the result was identified, Amazon stated it was “happy with the route” of the election and seemed ahead “to working with the brand new metropolis council, which we consider will likely be significantly extra open to constructive dialogue.”

Amazon has since not responded to additional requests for remark.

Reporting by Gregory Scruggs in Seattle; Enhancing by Steve Gorman, Daniel Wallis and Richard Pullin