Amazon makes big donations in Seattle City Council races

SEATTLE (AP) — Amazon is putting more than $1 million into Seattle's City Council races, new donations that boost its spending on politics in its hometown this year to $1.45 million.

The Seattle Times reports the online retail giant has now spent on the Council races than any other business or union, and all of Amazon's company money has gone to a political-action committee (PAC) associated with the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce, which has been buying direct-mail advertisements and paying door-to-door canvassers.

Wayne Barnett, executive director of the Seattle Ethics and Elections Commission, said Amazon's outlay is the largest "in anyone's memory" by a single entity in a Seattle election cycle.

Among the incumbents that the chamber is trying to defeat are Councilwoman Kshama Sawant and Councilwoman Lisa Herbold, both of whom worked to pass a controversial per-employee head tax that was passed and later repealed.

Amazon spokesman Aaron Toso said in a statement: "We believe it is critical that our hometown has a city council that is focused on pragmatic solutions to our shared challenges in transportation, homelessness, climate change and public safety."

The Service Employees International Union and the Unite Here hotel-workers union also have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on the Council races, mostly to support candidates competing with those backed by the Chamber.