Bernie Sanders has joined fellow Democratic presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren in decrying Amazon's heavy spending on Seattle's pivotal City Council elections.
Amazon last week reported a record $1.05 million contribution to a political-action committee that's been paying door-to-door canvassers and buying advertisements to boost pro-business candidates.
The commerce and technology behemoth had previously contributed $400,000 to the PAC associated with the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce, so the company has donated nearly $1.5 million to the PAC this year in an attempt to shape politics in its hometown.
All seven of the council's district-based seats are up for grabs this year. Businesses and other contributors can give no more than $500 to candidate campaigns but can give unlimited amounts to PACs that spend independently from the candidates.
"In a city struggling with homelessness, Amazon is dropping an outrageous amount of money to defeat progressive candidates fighting for working people," Sanders wrote on Twitter Monday, pointing to a report by The Nation magazine that concentrated on the pro-business group's desire to unseat socialist Councilmember Kshama Sawant, the District 3 incumbent.
"The way Amazon conducts itself in its hometown is a perfect example of the out-of-control corporate greed we are going to end," the Vermont senator added.
In response to a request for comment about Sanders' comments, Amazon spokesman Aaron Toso issued a statement: "We are engaging in this election because we want Seattle to have a city government that works. Seattle deserves a council that delivers results for all of its residents on issues that matter, like homelessness, transportation, climate change and public safety."
Seattle business leaders have argued that the current council hasn't spent taxpayer money wisely in addressing homelessness and has adopted too many new regulations. They've noted that labor unions and progressive donors are also spending large amounts on this year's elections.
For instance, a PAC backed by service workers unions and venture capitalist Nick Hanauer has raised nearly $500,000 to bolster the candidates the Chamber opposes, and hotel worker union Unite Here has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to help District 7 candidate Andrew Lewis.
Supporters of the more progressive candidates say Amazon and the Chamber are trying to ensure that the next council doesn't raise taxes on Seattle's large, successful corporations.