As with most places where tech and politics play side by side, there is a large amount of interest in tech companies as to who wins Seattle’s next election. Amazon notably announced a contribution of $1 million to one of the candidates’ campaigns, showing exactly how involved tech companies are willing to get. By donating these vast sums of money, tech companies can attempt to sway how these politicians consider new legislation when they are elected. In a democracy, campaign money is a means to an end, but donations like these have put a spotlight on the political situation within the city.
More Tech Giants Getting On the Funding Train
Amazon isn’t the only Big tech company making conspicuous donations to political campaigns within the city. Microsoft employees are also spending vast sums of money to help political campaigns, double what they did in the 2015 election season. Tech companies have already spent more than a million dollars in initiatives, and the tech sector is aiming to become more active in local legislation and policies after elections end.
Not So Fast…
Vocal criticism of the kind of financial weight tech companies are throwing around has come from Democratic representatives. Sen. Bernie Sanders, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, and Rep. Pramila Jayapal are all fierce opponents to the investment that tech companies are making into politics, not just in Seattle, but around the country. The pushback has made Amazon’s $1M donation a lightning rod, as candidates seek to distance themselves from the online retail giant. Seattle is notorious for instituting a short-lived tech business tax law that legislators unofficially termed the Amazon Tax, and the company’s donation seems to suggest they want to make sure the same doesn’t happen in the future.
Corporate Money in Politics
While the election donations have highlighted an issue with democratic politics inside the city, the millions of dollars that have been funneled into the city council are being ignored. Tech donors have spent over $1.4 million to defeat an initiative to cap registration fees within Washington, which would lead to a slash in the budget for transit projects. With this kind of money influencing legislators, the average citizen should be concerned that they’re doing what’s best for the residents of the city, and not what suits its tech companies