Amazon gives $200K to Seattle Chamber political action committee ahead of City Council elections

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Affordable housing advocates held demonstrations on Amazon’s Seattle headquarters last year over a heated tax battle. (GeekWire Photo / Monica Nickelsburg)

Amazon donated $200,000 to the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce’s political action committee in March ahead of a significant City Council election in the tech giant’s hometown.

The Chamber’s Civic Alliance for a Sound Economy (CASE) disclosed the contribution in a regular filing with the Seattle Ethics and Election Commission first spotted by The Seattle Times. The organization hasn’t announced its endorsements yet for the fall election in which seven City Council seats are up for grabs.

Why it matters: There’s no love lost between the current City Council and Amazon, which has scaled to about 50,000 employees in Seattle over the past decade, a boom that has dramatically impacted the region. Tensions boiled over last year when the City Council passed a tax that would’ve raised millions from Amazon to pay for affordable housing. Amazon and other businesses donated thousands to a campaign fighting the tax, leading the Council to ultimately repeal it. The upcoming election is an opportunity to reshape the City Council and Amazon wants its say.

What Amazon says: “We’ve consistently supported organizations and initiatives connected to issues, such as transportation, housing, and education, that affect our business and our employees in Seattle and the region. We work with CASE and the broader community to help ensure that Seattle is focused on pragmatic solutions to our most challenging issues and the opportunities that are ahead,” said Amazon spokesperson Aaron Toso in a statement.

Amazon has donated thousands of dollars to various efforts to improve education, housing, and transit access in Seattle.

Yes, but: The $200,000 CASE contribution is larger than those previous campaigns.

Big picture: Amazon is going on the political offensive at the city, state, and federal levels. Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos’ annual shareholders letter was basically one long rebuttal to accusations of anti-competitive behavior from progressive candidates for the presidency, such as Sen. Elizabeth Warren. In the Washington state legislature, Amazon is in closed-door negotiations over a privacy bill that would regulate its facial recognition business. Amazon is also grappling with a bill supported by Microsoft that would raise both companies’ business taxes by more than 60 percent in the state. The latest contribution to CASE shows Amazon is ready to enter even the smallest political ring.

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