Amazon spent more money lobbying the government in 2018 than any year in the company’s history.
The Seattle tech giant’s lobbying budget was $14.2 million last year, according to a new filing. It was the year Amazon took a more prominent role on the national political stage, making headlines not just for faster delivery times and holiday shopping records, but also for more polarizing issues.
Amazon kicked off 2018 by vetting 20 cities in the running for its second headquarters, a competition that sparked fierce debate because of the massive government incentives offered to the company in the hopes of winning 50,000 tech jobs. In November, Amazon announced it would split the vaunted second headquarters between New York City and Northern Virginia. Elected officials and activists in New York have been pushing back on the plan.
In 2018, activists started sounding the alarm over Amazon’s facial recognition technology and the law enforcement agencies using it. Facial recognition was one of Amazon’s lobbying issues last year, according to the filings.
Microsoft and Amazon are vying for a $10 billion contract with the Department of Defense to transform the military’s information technology infrastructure, another subject of Amazon’s 2018 lobbying.
Those lobbying dollars also went toward issues related to the postal service and postal reform. In August, Amazon and other retailers formed a new lobby, The Package Coalition, after President Donald Trump spent months calling for higher rates and more scrutiny of the company’s relationship with USPS.
Amazon lobbied the government on a range of other issues in 2018 including taxes, artificial intelligence, and data security. The e-commerce giant isn’t the only big tech company increasing its spending in Washington, D.C. Google and Facebook also set new lobbying records last year.