Former Vice President Joe Biden is scheduled to return to Seattle next month for a pair of fundraisers, including one co-hosted by Amazon general counsel David Zapolsky.
Biden will attend a late-afternoon reception on Nov. 15 in the Madison Park neighborhood, hosted by Seattle philanthropist Janet Ketcham, with tickets starting at $1,000 and ranging to $2,800, according to an invitation.
A second fundraiser is set for that evening at the Queen Anne neighborhood home of Zapolsky and his wife, Lynn Hubbard, a community volunteer and a former attorney, with admission set at $2,800 per person, according to an invitation. Co-chairs at each fundraising event are expected to raise $25,000.
Biden’s tapping of financial help from a top Amazon leader comes as his polling and fundraising edges have faded in the Democratic presidential primary. It’s also another sign of increasing political engagement by Amazon and its executives locally and nationally.
The company has poured a record-setting $1.5 million into Seattle’s City Council elections, drawing a backlash from some local politicians and some Democratic presidential contenders. The e-commerce giant, which employs some 750,000 people, also has become a punching bag for 2020 presidential candidates over its tax practices and market dominance.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., has proposed breaking up tech giants like Amazon and Google, deriding them as “freeloading billionaires.” Sen. Bernie Sanders, D-Vermont, has proposed the Stop Bad Employers by Zeroing Out Subsidies (BEZOS) Act, which would impose a “corporate welfare tax” on companies whose low-wage employees utilize public benefits such as food stamps.
Both Sanders and Warren also pilloried Amazon’s spending in Seattle’s council elections.
While viewed as a more centrist candidate, Biden too, has criticized Amazon over its federal tax bill, tweeting in June that “no company pulling in billions of dollars of profits should pay a lower tax rate than firefighters and teachers.”
The company responded in its own tweet that it pays “every penny we owe” in taxes and that Biden’s complaint “is w/the tax code, not Amazon.”
President Donald Trump, too, has repeatedly attacked Amazon and its founder, Jeff Bezos — in large part over his ownership of The Washington Post, which has reported aggressively on the Trump administration.
No public events have been announced as part of Biden’s Seattle visit, part of a Western campaign swing that also will include stops in Oregon. His campaign did not respond to requests for additional information.
Zapolsky, a member of Amazon’s senior executive team that reports directly to Bezos, already has donated the maximum allowable $5,800 to Biden’s 2020 campaign, according to Federal Election Commission records.
He gave the same amount to Gov. Jay Inslee’s now-shuttered presidential campaign, and has made smaller contributions to the presidential campaigns of Montana Gov. Steve Bullock and Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar.
“My wife and I have supported several of the presidential candidates this year and we are honored to host VP Biden next month,” Zapolsky said in an email, declining to comment on his reasons for backing candidates. He and Hubbard also each gave $10,000 the Democratic National Committee in March.
Biden’s upcoming Seattle stop will take place a day ahead of a scheduled Democratic National Committee reception in Seattle with DNC Chair Tom Perez.
Donors from the Seattle metropolitan area have already given more than $709,000 to Biden’s campaign, making it his eighth-largest base of support, behind cities including New York, San Francisco and Chicago, according to campaign-finance data from the nonprofit Center for Responsive Politics.
Biden last visited the Seattle area in June, attending a pair of private fundraisers, including one at the Medina home of former Microsoft president Jon Shirley. Biden has yet to hold a public event in the state for his 2020 presidential campaign.
Washington’s primary will take place on March 10, 2020, just a month after New Hampshire’s first-in-the-nation primary.