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Amazon political spending: 'Drowned out by a tsunami of corporate spending'

caption: Amazon's spheres are shown on Friday, September 15, 2017, in Seattle.
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Amazon's spheres are shown on Friday, September 15, 2017, in Seattle.
KUOW Photo/Megan Farmer

Amazon's spending on Seattle's election has led to a coordinated backlash from some candidates and politicians.

A group of city council members and candidates, along with some Amazon warehouse workers, held a press conference at the Amazon Spheres building to oppose the corporation's election donations.

"The voices of underrepresented communities are going to be drowned out by a tsunami of corporate spending," said Amy Madden. Madden is a board member of the 43rd District Democrats in Seattle.

She helped lead a press conference with city council members Lorena González and Mike O'Brien, and 2019 candidates Kshama Sawant (incumbent), Shaun Scott of Northeast Seattle and Tammy Morales of Southeast Seattle. Their election opponents stand to benefit from Amazon's political donations.

"It's time to say no to billion dollar corporations whose warehouse workers are relying on food stamps... and we should not be allowed that influence in our local government," says Morales.

González plans to introduce a bill that would stop corporate donors from influencing Seattle elections by donating to Political Action Committees (PAC).

Multiple democratic organizations in Seattle back that measure, and have adopted their own resolution calling for "immediate action to expose and mitigate the influence of big money PAC spending on the 2019 Seattle City Council elections."

Amazon will give nearly $1.5 million total to the Seattle Chamber of Commerce's PAC, the Civic Alliance for a Sound Economy, who is opposing the more progressive candidates. A spokesperson says "the money CASE has raised is from local companies who care about the future of this city."

In a statement, CASE says the Amazon Spheres press conference was "just another example of the toxic, divisive tactics of the current Seattle City Council." It goes on to say, “once the business community highlighted the need for change and a functioning Seattle City Council, our contributions suddenly became an issue. The hypocrisy is disappointing but to be expected from the status quo.”

An Amazon spokesperson says the company is spending in the elections process because it "cares deeply about the future of Seattle".

A group of Amazon workers is also joining the call to limit corporate expenditures. They are circulating a letter among Amazon employees and plan to hold a lunchtime rally on the topic October 24th.

Ballots will arrive in hand by next Tuesday.

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