It’s unusual for an east coast senator and presidential candidate to wade into local politics in a city on the other side of the country. But that’s what happened Saturday when Sen. Elizabeth Warren got wind of Amazon’s equally unusual $1.45 million effort to sway the upcoming Seattle City Council elections.
Warren is often critical of Amazon and she continued to beat that drum in a tweet accusing the Seattle-based tech giant of “trying to tilt the Seattle City Council elections their favor.”
Surprise: Amazon is trying to tilt the Seattle City Council elections in their favor. I'm with the Seattle council members and activists who continue standing up to Amazon. Corporations aren't people, and I have a plan to get big money out of politics. https://t.co/XiVQVQfQ0P
— Elizabeth Warren (@ewarren) October 19, 2019
Amazon rankled Seattle progressives last week when the company announced a $1 million donation to the Seattle Metro Chamber of Commerce’s political action committee, the Civic Alliance for a Sound Economy (CASE). The fresh cash brings Amazon’s total contributions to CASE to $1.45 million since last year. The money could provide a boost to the seven business-friendly Seattle City Council candidates CASE has endorsed.
Amazon has become a frequent target of Warren on her quest for the White House in 2020. Part of her campaign includes a proposal to break the company up, along with other tech giants. She believes big tech companies have become too dominant and accuses Amazon of using its power as a seller and marketplace operator to gain an unfair advantage.
Rep. Pramilla Jayapal also weighed in on Amazon’s CASE donation on Twitter. The U.S. Congresswoman’s district includes Seattle.
I am extremely disturbed by the unprecedented amount of money that Amazon has dumped into Seattle City Council elections: not just a thumb, but a fistful of cash, on the scales of democracy. https://t.co/jLVI4yQRZg
— Pramila Jayapal (@PramilaJayapal) October 19, 2019
Amazon says it is backing CASE because it wants to see more pragmatic leaders in Seattle’s government. The company is frequently at odds with the current City Council, which has passed some of the most progressive legislation in the nation.
“We are engaging in this election because we want Seattle to have a city government that works,” Amazon spokesperson Aaron Toso said when asked about Warren and Jayapal’s tweets. “Seattle deserves a council that delivers results for all of its residents on issues that matter, like homelessness, transportation, climate change and public safety.”
With seven of the nine City Council seats up for grabs, Amazon and others in the business community see the election next month as a rare opportunity to transform Seattle’s government.
Amazon’s latest contribution makes it the largest political donor in Seattle elections this year by far.