Amazon is a very rich company. It had revenues of $43.7 billion in just the third quarter of this year. Its CEO, Jeff Bezos, is (on most days, depending on the markets) literally the richest man on Earth, worth $89.9 billion. Yesterday, his company sent an email to its employees—none of whom, by the way, are worth $89 billion—asking them to donate to the Amazon PAC, in order to help it “create a pro-customer public policy environment.”
Rich companies like Amazon tend to do a lot of lobbying and other related grim shit in Washington, D.C., to remind politicians who the real boss is. (It’s Jeff. Jeff Bossos.) It’s illegal for corporations to simply donate to politicians, however; individuals can only donate $5,000 to PACs, and the PACs can only donate $5,000 to candidates per election. They have to create a super PAC if they want to spend unlimited amounts on elections, but that’s not usually what they want to do, or at least, it’s not all of it. Big players like Amazon don’t necessarily want to drop $1 million on getting one House candidate elected because he promised he’d turn the Upper Peninsula of Michigan into an Amazon drone factory. They want to spread their cash around to everyone, to make sure everyone has to answer the phone, especially committee chairs and other powerful decision-makers.
So, for many years, companies have created political action committees that take donations from the company’s employees, and then spread that money around to all the little piggies in Washington. Amazon’s PAC, for example, donated $515,200 in the 2016 cycle, to congressmen and senators of both parties. That’s a lot of $5,000 donations! And they all come from Amazon employees.
A source who works at Amazon sent Splinter the email from“The Amazon PAC Team” asking employees to donate to the Amazon PAC, which “gives voice to the interests of Amazon’s customers and fosters a positive environment for our unique business within the US federal system.” It says any such contributions are a “a means of political expression based on shared business interests.”
To be clear: This is legal. It is perfectly legal for a company to email their employees and beg for their money so they can give it to Representative Gunt Fuckmusket, R-N.Y., in the hopes of securing slightly more favorable public policy on whatever issue concerns them that day, tax reform or whatever “trucking efficiency issues” are (probably self-driving trucks). It’s also common, especially among huge corporations.
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However: This being legal doesn’t mean it’s not very funny. Look at this stupid email. Look how stupid it is.
From: The Amazon PAC Team
Sent: Thursday, November 9, 2017 10:01 AM
Subject: Please join the Amazon PAC today
Achieving Amazon’s goal to be the most customer-centric company in the world requires a strong public policy presence that promotes continuous innovation, business growth, and, above all, our customers’ needs.
The Amazon Political Action Committee (Amazon PAC) gives voice to the interests of Amazon’s customers and fosters a positive environment for our unique business within the US federal system. The Amazon PAC contributes to congressional candidates from both parties whose views are supportive on issues important to the customer experience, such as net neutrality and consumer privacy.
In short, the Amazon PAC helps us to tell our story, and that of our customers, in Washington, D.C.: but we need your help. Federal law requires that the Amazon PAC rely only on voluntary contributions from Amazonians like you, as the company itself is not allowed to donate to federal candidates. There is a strict $5,000 per person maximum contribution to the PAC, so the collective action of all of our eligible employees is needed to give Amazon a voice in the political system.
We understand political giving is a personal decision and the Amazon PAC is not intended to serve as a substitute for your own personal involvement or to signify your personal support for any one candidate’s overall political stance. Rather, the Amazon PAC is a means of political expression based on shared business interests. Making a contribution is easy at amazonpac.amazon.com (while logged in to the Amazon network). It takes less than five minutes to join.
Thank you for supporting our effort to create a pro-customer public policy environment. Please email the Amazon PAC team at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions.
Brian Huseman | Vice President, Public Policy | Amazon
Lol okay thanks Brian I’ll get right on that.