Amazon’s growing spending on Seattle politics includes a spate of donations from Jeff Bezos’ ‘S Team’
Headline from the Seattle Times. From the article:
Earlier this year, 11 members of Amazon’s so-called “S Team” — senior leaders who report directly to Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos — started writing checks to a group of Seattle City Council candidates and a political-action committee. For most of the executives, it marked their first donations to Seattle council races.Amazon isn't happy at Seattle's attempt to pass a "head tax" on employees for large corporations.
The local political spending of Amazon’s top executives, along with a record-setting $1 million contribution to a pro-business political-action committee last week, underscore the company’s desire for a more accommodating council in the city where it occupies nearly 50 buildings and has more than 50,000 employees. ...
Amazon’s local political awakening began in earnest in 2017, as the Seattle City Council started a public discussion of a “head tax” on big businesses to fund housing and homeless services. That year, the company donated $350,000 to a business PAC to help get Mayor Jenny Durkan elected. ...
Amazon’s $1 million donation last week to the Civic Alliance for a Sound Economy (CASE), a PAC associated with the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce, was the largest outlay by a corporation or other single player in a Seattle city election. It came on top of $400,000 Amazon gave earlier to CASE to spend on the election.
Since corporations game their taxes, and most cities don't levy income taxes, this is a way to get at taxing corporations.
The Seattle City Council passed the tax at $250 per employee, but later reversed it. According to Geekwire, Amazon has more than 50,000 employees based in Seattle, so the tax would have raised at least $12,500,000 per year. (See the discussion on District 1 Seattle Council Member Lisa Herbold in this election endorsement article from The Stranger.)
Even so, Amazon announced they would be moving a major division to suburban Bellevue ("Amazon details plan for Bellevue expansion, bringing several thousand jobs in coming years," Seattle Times).
Seattle's City Council, like San Francisco, tends to be quite liberal/progressive and has one of the nation's only Socialists, Kshama Sawant.
It does provide some scary thoughts concerning Amazon's entry into Arlington County, Virginia. Then again, Virginia is a Dillon Rule state which means that the State Legislature must authorize by law, the ability of local governments to act. In other words, no legislation on head taxes at the local level unless previously enabled by the State Legislature.