Amazon’s D.C. lobbying budget is bigger and broader than ever before

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Amazon’s Day 1 tower on the company’s Seattle headquarters. (GeekWire Photo / Kurt Schlosser)

Amazon is souping up its lobbying engine, as its business becomes more sprawling and its ambition draws regulatory scrutiny.

Lobbyists for the Seattle tech giant approached more government entities than any other tech company in 2018, according to data compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics and first reported by Axios.

Amazon’s lobbying budget has also reached new heights; the company spent more than $14 million to influence the federal government last year, more than double what it spent in 2014.

The Amazon lobbying team contacted more than 40 different government agencies in 2018, including Congress, the White House, the Departments of the Treasury and Homeland Security, and others.

A number of factors are driving Amazon’s increased spending in D.C. A far cry from the online bookseller it once was, Amazon’s business interests now include cloud computing, grocery retail, entertainment media, and more.

In 2018, Amazon stepped into the political limelight. The company made daily headlines over the past year during its search for a second headquarters as cities and states offered juicy government incentive packages to lure the project. Amazon is competing for a $10 billion Department of Defense cloud contract and developing facial recognition software that is attractive to law enforcement agencies.

The company’s aggressive growth strategy and increasing efforts to influence policy are getting attention from big names in politics, particularly progressives vying for the White House in 2020. Last year, Sen. Bernie Sanders shined a spotlight on working conditions in Amazon’s warehouses, eventually compelling the company to raise its minimum wage to $15 an hour. And last week, Sen. Elizabeth Warren unveiled a plan to break up big tech companies, like Amazon, that would dramatically impact the company’s business.

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