Amazon Linked Business PAC Drops $525,000 for Durkan
On October 16th, the Seattle Chamber of Commerce’s PAC, Civic Alliance for a Sound Economy (CASE), contributed $525,000 to People for Jenny Durkan, the PAC linked to the Seattle mayoral candidate. CASE has spent $611,000 on Durkan in 2017, 11.6 times its grant to former Mayor Ed Murray’s PAC in 2013.
Traditionally, Amazon has a history of staying on the sidelines of Seattle elections but it’s funded 38.6% of CASE’s expenditures this election year: $250,000 in July 2017 and $100,000 on October 12th.
Prior to 2017, the most Amazon ever gave to a city race was $700 to Councilman Tim Burgess. In the last decade, Amazon’s total contributions to all city races is $26,400. Bezos doesn’t even vote much. as of 2014, he’d voted in only 4 of 27 elections since December 2003.
It doesn’t take much money to run political campaigns in Seattle and the Washington State legislature compared to federal campaigns. Corporations don’t give usually give big gifts, but instead wield “soft” power through relationships and private communication. But this year is different.
Comcast has given $25,000 and Century Link $82,500 to CASE, likely because Durkan’s opponent, Cary Moon, supports citywide municipal broadband. And Paul Allen’s Vulcan development group has given CASE $189,062. Moon has made affordable housing her No. 1 priority which would impact Vulcan’s long term profitability.
When Durkan made headlines earlier this month for refunding a $500 contribution from Microsoft on September 7th, because of election law conflicts, Moon told The Times, “As mayor, I won’t be obliged to big corporations…it’s not just a question of complying with the letter of the law, it’s about bringing back the highest levels of ethics, trust and transparency to the mayor’s office.”
It’s unprecedented to see campaign contributions of this magnitude. It tells me the Chamber of Commerce’s internal polling has them concerned about Moon’s popularity. Or that it’s easy for them to buy elections for pennies on the dollar. Amazon’s $350,000 contribution represents about .00014 of its CY 2016 net profit.
Essentially, Amazon, Comcast, Century Link and Vulcan are trying to buy winning votes at about $5 each based on the 2013 mayoral election result.
Obviously, none of this would be possible without Citizens United.
Disclosure: I’ve been an acquaintance of Cary Moon’s in the past and gave $100 to her campaign recently.