Amazon is the king of commerce in cyberspace, but the folks running the omnipresent online retail company are now fully aware that their headquarters in the real world is located in a democracy. Until the Seattle City Council tried to impose a head tax on larger businesses in the city, the corporate leaders of Seattle’s biggest employer had only played a modest role in local politics. That is definitely not the case in the current election.
Amazon executives have poured $1.45 million into the war chests of City Council candidates who are considered to be less antagonistic to business. Folks on the hyper-progressive side – even outsiders such as Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders – have freaked out, saying Amazon is trying to buy City Hall. As Times columnist Danny Westneat has noted, though, none of these folks expressed outrage when Amazon founder Jeff Bezos contributed $2.5 million to a 2012 campaign backing same-sex marriage.
Nevertheless, Amazon’s big move into municipal politics has made the company, itself, a big issue in the election. The question to be answered by voters is who will benefit most from all that Amazon money; those who want to move the council back toward the conciliatory center or those on the left who have been given new ammunition with which they can demonize Amazon.
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