Washington Gov. Jay Inslee stuck up for Amazon on Twitter on Tuesday, following almost a week of public criticism of the company from the White House.
Washington Gov. Jay Inslee on Tuesday took to Twitter, President Donald Trump’s preferred medium, to stick up for Amazon after the president’s latest online critique of the Seattle company.
Trump has been blasting the company on the social media site for days, claiming the retailer was getting a sweetheart deal from the U.S. Postal Service, paying what he said were unfairly low taxes, and harming Main Street businesses.
Inslee, governor of Amazon’s home state, replied on Tuesday afternoon.
Tara Lee, a spokeswoman for Inslee, said the governor wanted to publicly show support for the company. She said she didn’t believe that the governor’s office had been in touch with Amazon’s policy and government affairs team since Trump’s recent criticism of the company began. Inslee had previously clashed with Trump over a variety of policies, including an in-person rebuttal to the president’s suggestion of arming teachers to prevent school shootings.
State officials are reluctant to publicly criticize Amazon or Washington’s other largest employers, including Boeing and Microsoft, in part out of fear of giving the behemoths cause to shift work elsewhere in search of a friendlier political climate. Amazon, which employs more than 45,000 at its Seattle headquarters and thousands more in distribution facilities in South King County and Pierce County, is currently seeking a second, “equal” headquarters site elsewhere in North America.
Amazon has been in Trump’s sights for almost two years, raising complaints that he often links to Chief Executive Jeff Bezos’ ownership of The Washington Post.
But that ire turned into national business and political news in the last week, beginning with a report on Wednesday by Axios, a news website, quoting people who had spoken with the president who reported that he was “obsessed” with Amazon, and looking for ways to use tax or antitrust law to go after the company.
Trump essentially confirmed that report in the following days, posting to Twitter several times. White House officials, while they haven’t distanced themselves from the president’s comments, have said that there are no specific policies under discussion that would target Amazon.
Trump is far from the first to lodge a complaint about Amazon and its business practices. The company for years worked to avoid the sales taxes charged by brick-and-mortar rivals before reluctantly beginning to charge tax on items sold from its own inventory. More recently, Amazon has drawn scrutiny for the high-pressure working conditions in warehouses as well as white collar jobs in Seattle, and some academics charge that the company wields too much power in the marketplace and should be investigated on antitrust grounds.
But some observers say the president’s use of the bully pulpit to wage war on a specific business crossed a line.
“It’s inappropriate for government officials to use their position to attack an American company,” Neil Bradley, chief policy officer for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce business trade group, said this week, according to Reuters.
The U.S. economy relies on free enterprise and the rule of law, “whereby policy matters are handled through recognized policymaking processes,” he said. “The record is clear: Deviating from those processes undermines economic growth and job creation.”
Amazon shares, down 7 percent since the Axios report, climbed on Tuesday as investors shrugged off a critical tweet from Trump earlier that morning about the “many billions of dollars” that Amazon is costing the U.S. Post Office. The company’s stock ended trading up 1.5 percent at $1,392.05 a share, up 53 percent from a year earlier.
Amazon had no comment Tuesday on Inslee or Trump’s tweets.