Amazon has been steadily increasing its lobbying budget and taking a more central position on the national political stage while simultaneously searching for a city to plant its second headquarters.
The Seattle e-commerce giant’s annual lobbying spend has been increasing since 2000, data from the Center for Responsive Politics show. In 2017, the year Amazon announced plans to develop “HQ2” in another North American city, the company spent $13 million on lobbying. Amazon spent $6.89 million this year as of August 28.
In the third quarter of 2018, Amazon ramped things up even more, spending a record $3.47 million on lobbying, according to Bloomberg. That increase comes as Amazon competes for a $10 billion contract with the Pentagon to migrate the department’s data to the cloud.
Amazon’s increased lobbying appetite is an advantage for three cities in the Washington, D.C. metro area competing for HQ2: the district proper, Montgomery County, and Northern Virginia. All three are on a shortlist of 20 cities in the running for Amazon’s second home, a $5 billion corporate campus with room for 50,000 employees.
An Amazon Web Services campus with capacity for thousands of employees is already underway in Northern Virginia. Oddsmakers are betting on the D.C. area for several other reasons too. Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos owns The Washington Post and a massive mansion in D.C. Bezos traveled to the area in September for a series of talks and appointments, including a fireside chat at the Economic Club of Washington, D.C.
Plus most of Amazon’s public policy team already operates in the D.C. area. Establishing HQ2 in the nation’s capital would give top Amazon executives daily access to federal government officials at a time when the company is doubling down on lobbying.