Amazon Hires "Army Of Lobbyists" As Political Spending Outpaces WalMart, ExxonMobil

Amazon shares were sent reeling Thursday following the Supreme Court’s decision allowing states to collect taxes on e-commerce sales - a decision that could potentially cost Amazon billions of dollars in taxes a year. The decision featured an opinion by so-called "swing" justice Anthony Kennedy, who argued that the reasoning behind the decision that freed companies like Amazon from this obligation was "unsound" and "incorrect."

Siding with states and traditional brick-and-mortar retailers on a 5-4 vote, Bloomberg reports that the court overturned a 1992 ruling that had made much of the internet a tax-free zone.

That decision had shielded retailers from tax-collection duties if they didn’t have a physical presence in a state. Delivering the opinion of the court, Justice Anthony Kennedy said the physical presence rule in that former case is unsound and incorrect.

However, shortly before the decision was announced, the Wall Street Journal published a long-winded feature about how Amazon and its founder-CEO Jeff Bezos have built up one of the most formidable lobbying operations in Washington in recent years.

Amazon

Indeed, the company spent more than $10 million last year alone, more than Exxon Mobil and rivals like Wal-Mart, as Bezos sought to protect and grow his many lines of business - particularly its cloud-computing business, Amazon Web Services. To underscore its lobbying largesse, Amazon has also included three Washington DC-area locations in its list of finalists. Amazon has said that, over the next two decades, its second headquarters will create 50,000 jobs and roughly $5 billion in investment. Bezos has also spent tens of millions to expand his personal presence in the area; he recently bought a $23 million mansion in the city’s Kalorama neighborhood, where his neighbors include Barack and Michelle Obama as well as Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump.

Even after severing ties with Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP, the biggest lobbying shop on K Street by revenue, and Squire Patton Boggs, another legendary Washington firm where Amazon's interests were handled by former Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott, the company has still managed to build an army of nearly 100 lobbyists at more than 12 firms.

That was then. Today, Amazon, whose revenues last year topped $177 billion, has become deeply entwined with the federal government. Mr. Bezos has built one of the largest lobbying operations in Washington, bigger than those of powerhouses such as Exxon Mobil Corp. and Walmart Inc. Its cloud-computing business is a major government contractor, with an estimated $1.5 billion in contracts last year, according to consulting firm GBH Insights. And the company has been pushing hard to change the law to allow government employees to buy more of their own supplies on Amazon.com.

[...]

To aid its battles, Amazon now has an army of nearly 100 lobbyists at more than a dozen lobbying firms working on a list of issues including taxes, trade, government procurement, internet policy, drone regulation, grocery rules, music licensing and, more recently, food stamps.

Last year, the company spent $13 million on lobbying, five times as much as it spent five years earlier, putting it just behind some of last year’s biggest corporate lobbyists, including Google and AT&T Inc.

What’s more, the company’s political action committee, is growing rapidly as well...

Campaign donations by Amazon’s political-action committee, funded by its employees and directed by the company, have grown in recent years, according to campaign-finance data collected by the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics. In this year’s campaign, it has donated $637,500, with half going to Democrats and half to Republicans. That is up from $515,000 in 2016 and $179,500 in 2012, with a similar political split.

...While spending on “advocacy groups” is also on the rise.

Meanwhile, Amazon’s spending on advocacy groups is on the rise, disclosures show. In 2015, it reported giving $10,000 or more to about 47 groups. In 2017, it donated to 82 groups, including conservative-leaning entities that could help in battles with Republicans, such as the American Enterprise Institute and the Competitive Enterprise Institute. In 2015, it hired Jay Carney, Mr. Obama’s former press secretary, as senior vice president of corporate affairs.

And or course, let’s not forget Bezos’ $250 million purchase of the Washington Post - which President Trump famously alleged has become one of the most powerful lobbying tools in Bezos’ toolkit - though the tech plutocrat insists that his purchase was made purely in the public interest of promoting good journalism, and not for any nefarious, personal purposes. Trump has insisted that the US Post Office should stop behaving like Amazon’s "delivery boy" and start charging more for delivering Amazon packages, a decision that could cost the company billions of dollars at a time when delivery costs already constitute some 12% of Amazon’s total revenue (perhaps this is why Amazon is slowly building its own delivery service).

Amazon

Trump’s tweets have, at times, sent Amazon share spiraling lower and, in one famous incident, wiped more than $13 billion off Bezos’ net worth. But the skirmishes with Trump have mostly been a side show: Amazon’s biggest political beefs have been with its rivals, who vehemently oppose a controversial measure known as the "Amazon Amendment". The measure would allow federal employees to buy goods straight from Amazon, skipping bureaucratic channels (and further padding Amazon’s revenue from the federal government). But Amazon’s rivals have been angered by a provision in the original measure that would seemingly allow Amazon to circumvent competitive bidding.

Last year, Amazon pushed a provision to allow federal employees to buy a broad array of goods online, from cleaning supplies to bottled water, instead of through usual bureaucratic channels. An early draft in Congress drew opposition from competitors such as Home Depot and Grainger because it stated the contract could be made without competitive bidding to “one or more” online retailers “used widely in the private sector.”

Competitors dubbed it the "Amazon amendment" and went to war. Rivals said it could give Amazon a near-monopoly on billions in sales and complained about the lack of congressional hearings and careful study of the consequences.

They made such a fuss that senators on the Armed Services Committee called a meeting so critics could voice their complaints—a rare occurrence. Lobbyists for Amazon’s rivals took turns criticizing the measure.

Lawmakers have since expanded the proposal to allow federal employees to buy supplies through multiple online retailers. Final details are still being hashed out and the plan hasn’t yet been launched.

But Trump’s accusations that Amazon has become a job-killing monopoly are beginning to gain traction. Amazon was responsible for 4% of total US retail sales and more than 40% of e-commerce. And when it comes to cloud computing, Amazon is expected to reap $2.8 billion in 2018 and $4.6 billion in 2019 from its government contracts alone. That’s up from less than $300 million in 2015. Indeed, nearly 10% of the revenue and profits from AWS come from government contracts.

Amazon

But all of this is being threatened by a hostile new administration (Barack Obama was stridently pro-Amazon, even using AWS to run some of the web services for his campaign) and the American left, which now views Amazon as the avatar of Silicon Valley corporate greed. US Senator and former presidential contender Bernie Sanders published a video earlier this year under his “Faces of Greed” series scrutinizing how Amazon - and Bezos personally - have avoided paying their “fair share” of taxes while the company mistreats employees at both its “distribution centers” and it corporate offices.

The video also points out that the jobs created by Amazon aren’t nearly as desirable as the jobs the company is destroying.

But Bezos, of course, can’t be bothered with such trifles as working conditions in the here and now. He’s already focused on bigger things - like space. Bezos hopes to eventually win government contracts for his Blue Origin LLC to send equipment and astronauts into space for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration and Pentagon (Trump’s order earlier this week to create a Space Force could create some serious opportunities for Bezos, though he will no doubt need to first fight it out with Elon Musk’s SpaceX) . Amazon is also seeking permission from US regulators to begin using drones for delivery purposes. All of these efforts mean that Amazon will likely only seek to grow its lobbying presence in the coming years. But how much more can the company really spend before it reaches the a point of diminishing returns? The company must already contend with the antipathy of the most powerful man in America, as well as a coterie of corporate rivals who increasingly view Bezos as a threat, and who are banding together to undercut the company.

Amazon

Perhaps, at this point, the company should consider just building its own in-house lobbying presence. Maybe it could even pull a maneuver similar to its acquisition of what’s now Amazon Robotics: That is - buy out the firms that its competitors rely on, then refuse to extend those contracts so the firms can focus exclusively on Amazon.

What can we say, other than it has worked before.

Comments

Slaytheist MarshalJimDuncan Thu, 06/21/2018 - 22:34 Permalink

It cannot be balanced, in the face of the total debt.  It's literally impossible.  You could try, but you'd end up in more debt.  That is why even hundreds of years ago, every dam farmer told his sons not to trust the banks.  Especially foreign Central Banks that wanted to rule you.

But today, with the Ignorance Factories running as daycare, no one can seem to even remember how anything works. 

In reply to by MarshalJimDuncan

Rubicon727 Mr. Pain Thu, 06/21/2018 - 20:00 Permalink

Today's US Supreme Court decision is the best news I've read for a considerable amount of time.

Bezos is a vulture. His treatment of many warehouse folks 'round the world is despicable. You can find those articles throughout Europe and a few from the US.

He and Soros rank very high on the list of despicable human beings.

In reply to by Mr. Pain

Clock Crasher Thu, 06/21/2018 - 19:41 Permalink

I just moved my price target on Amazon from 2,000 to 20,000. 

Get long or get left behind.  

Now, introducing the US Department of Amazon.  Chair members include Janet Yellen, Ben Bernanke and John Corzine.  

J Mahoney Thoreau Thu, 06/21/2018 - 19:54 Permalink

I believe you are correct about this sales tax rule to hit USA consumers but likely wont affect all the Amazon sellers in Asia which are already getting big subsidies from the back of the USA taxpayer. We have one last shot at equality when Trumps Post Office Task Force reports their findings.

My advice to TRUMP—do away with only this one unfair trade deal (sudsidized postage into the USA) and positive results will be felt so FAST in our economy—no need to expand the Trade War after this is done.

Some of the people who are testifying to Trumps "Post Office Task Force" tells the story so good---PLEASE watch one guy in particular that explains why the USA has been sold out to the United Nations and China. Once the video loads, start it at the 1:01:10 

https://www.c-span.org/video/?447082-1/panelists-discuss-president-trumps-postal-service-task-force

 

We NEED TO IMMEDIATELY DO AWAY WITH that Asian subsidy which is KILLING jobs for us folks but enriching the richest man in the world. Did you know a small package sent by an Asian online seller only cost them about $1.00 vs the $20.00 that we would have to pay to return the junk in a package to Asia. We even provide tracking services on that freaking package. Amazon even gets Sunday delivery of their packages. This was pushed down our throats thru the “heavy lobbying” by Ebay and Amazon and backdoored thru a United Nations action to help "developing countries. SO CHINA WANTS AND IS READY TO BECOME THE WORLD RESERVE CURRENCY--THIS IS NOT DEVELOPING COUNTRY !!!!! Sooner or later our “paid off” politicians (CRONIES OF OBAMA, BUSH, CLINTON) are going to have a change of heart, albeit from taxpayers and voters aware of the “Amazon Subsidy” and get SICK AND TIRED of it and voting them out of office or just plain old guilty conscience. Just the headlines about retail store closings tell us about jobs being lost and commercial real estate getting ready to tank, (Store closings---just a few—Penny’s 130-140 stores, Sears/Kmart 150, Macy’s 100, Foot Locker 100, Kohls 16, Office Depot 200, Abercrombie 114, BCBG 118, HH Gregg 88, Pier One 100, Toys R Us bankruptcy).

Problems with this is:

1) Post Office loosing hundreds of millions delivering these cheap packages (taxpayers left holding the bag making up for their losses and eventual USPS pension shortfalls)

2) Uninspected goods come in, many of which are in violation of intellectual property laws and safety regulations.

3) USA stores can’t compete- thus many previous full time jobs in retail have disappeared altogether or with lower paying and reduced benefit part-time jobs.

4) Foreign online sellers are NOT paying any sales tax, income tax, or tariffs like the importers in the USA.

5) Lost jobs equals social security taxes NOT COLLECTED--another freaking problem waiting to rear its ugly face.

6) Millions of pounds of goods delivered by post office SHOULD come into the USA by container by the large retailers and then distributed by USA TRUCKERS AND WORKERS (NOT USPS) then China should buy from us and fill the container for the return trip (HELPS THE USA WORKERS TOO)

In reply to by Thoreau

Let it Go J Mahoney Thu, 06/21/2018 - 21:51 Permalink

Thanks for the great link that is spot on. This has to stop. America is shooting itself in the foot and both Bezos and China are screwngus into the ground.

As for Amazon entering into delivery that is a joke that forces any logical investor to question why their stock is trading at a PE 300 time future earnings. It is insane to think any "delivery company" can ever be worth such a high multiple. More on this in the article below.

http://Amazon To Compete With UPS And FedEx, Seriously?.html

In reply to by J Mahoney

BidnessMan Thu, 06/21/2018 - 19:45 Permalink

Bezos knew this was coming.  Lives part-time in DC area, bought WaPo.  The Amazon 2nd HQ will be within an hour's drive of K Street so it is easier for Amazon to lobby - probably near Dulles airport.  A six hour flight from Seattle plus 3 time zones is just too far when your biggest business risk is politics.  The DC rule is " If you are not at the table, you are on the table. "  To be carved up by the people at the table. 

Admire the Kabuki Theatre Charade about picking a location for the Amazon HQ2 to jack up the tax incentives.  It was always going to DC.  

Alexander De Large Thu, 06/21/2018 - 19:57 Permalink

Bunch of faggot commies in here pretending to be free market capitalists.

"Bu bu but Bezos need 2 b shut down!  He say thingz my presidint dont like an he make my lokal florist shoppe half to kloze down bcuz Ammazawn pricez r lower MAGA!"

Perhaps, at this point, the company should consider just building its own in-house lobbying presence. Maybe it could even pull a maneuver similar to its acquisition of what’s now Amazon Robotics: That is - buy out the firms that its competitors rely on, then refuse to extend those contracts so the firms can focus exclusively on Amazon.

Fucking brilliant.  That is Classic Coke Judaism as opposed to Zuckerberg's New Coke Judaism.

As far as lobbying goes, perhaps Fight Club could get a few dozen congressmen and senators on the take.

That is, if its retard members ever stop blowing their disposable income on fucking commemorative coins and crypto ponzi schemes long enough to pool their funds.

Dumb little bastards.

gearjammers1 Thu, 06/21/2018 - 20:15 Permalink

I'm watching Amazon's "Goliath" with Billy Bob Thornton, it's just more white-hating trash.  White guys frame poor el spico boy for a murder committed by wealthy whites. Billy Bob Thornton is a lawyer and his love interest is a hispanic girl. All the latest TV shows show white guy with el spico girlfriend mixing it up.. Not just Amazon, I'm watching Animal Kingdom, it's a TV show about a criminal California white family, all the white boys have el spico girlfriends. The latest episode, the hook-nosed crime family matriarch Ellen Barkin makes a pro-immigrant statement. Ellen Barkin has aged well. Clearly, the Hollywood Jews want us all to have Hispanic girlfriends. But I don't like dark-skinned girls, dark skin makes my skin crawl. The anti-white propaganda coming from Jew Hollywood is accelerating. Whites are being dehumanized  - dehumanization always leads to genocide.

char_aznable gearjammers1 Thu, 06/21/2018 - 20:21 Permalink

The best part about your american television is that every commercial shows an interracial couple and it's beautiful and any suggestion otherwise is razzist. At least the morons are self-selecting out of the white gene pool... well aside from the cosmopolitan contingent that got tricked into thinking their mulatto and quadroon children wouldn't be buttfuck retarded and hideous.

In reply to by gearjammers1

navy62802 Thu, 06/21/2018 - 20:38 Permalink

Before we crucify Amazon as some monopoly, name one company that offers the same services and quality at the same price. I'm no Bezos fan (and, in fact, view him as a stooge for the CIA), but Amazon rules the online market for a reason ... they're the best at this job due to hundreds of millions of investment in infrastructure.

GoldmanSax Thu, 06/21/2018 - 20:54 Permalink

Lobbying is bribing representatives to serve private interest over public ones. How this is not a crime and scoring a poppy bulb is, is a travesty of justice. We should free some people from prison to make room for others. 

Let it Go Thu, 06/21/2018 - 21:41 Permalink

Trump will have his hands full curbing the power Bezos has gathered. Amazon is a job killing exploiter. The fact is that many of the options Bezos employs to expand Amazon are available to him only because of the many areas his various companies engage in and this is the crux of growing antitrust talk. 

Jeff Bezos did not purchase the Washington Post in 2013 because he expected newspapers to make a lucrative resurgence. He purchased the long-trusted U.S. newspaper for the power it would ensure him in Washington and because it could be wielded as a propaganda mouthpiece to extend his ability to both shape and control public opinion.

http://Trump And Bezos Face Off - Clash Of The Titans!html

JLarryL Thu, 06/21/2018 - 22:17 Permalink

Same thing as always, people. Don't like them, don't use their services. Every last Amazon service can be had elsewhere -- often cheaper, too. At this point I'm down to a couple of ebooks a year from them. Ebay carries everything (and often more) at the same prices with similar delivery situation and no need for Prime. Nowadays there are hundreds of smaller online shops that carry good product and do solid delivery and service. And craigslist can be a spectacular source of goods that crush Amazon pricewise.

SurfinUSA Sat, 06/23/2018 - 01:45 Permalink

This year Amazon's earnings are estimated to come in at $12.54 a share against a current price of $1,715.67.  That means the P/E is the number of years X earnings before the company will return the price per share in its annual earnings.  

If Amazon takes 136 years to earn its current price of $1,715.67, it will be the year 2155.  If we were to look back to gauge the P/E based on historical earnings, we would have to go back to 1881, the year that President James Garfield was assassinated. THE AMAZON PRICE, BY ANY MEASURE, IS A BUBBLE.