Amazon founder Jeff Bezos’s purchase of the Washington Post comes on the heels of his spending $1.7 million on lobbying from January through June of this year, the ninth biggest Silicon Valley lobbying expenditure.
Bezos has ramped up lobbying as Amazon’s e-commerce business has grown. The intersection between digital content rights and anti-trust laws, as well as Internet sales tax proposals and an aggressive same-day delivery push by Amazon that could crush local retailers, has increasingly attracted the e-commerce titan to Washington politics.
Former U.S. Senators Trent Lott (R-MS) and John Breaux (D-LA) are Amazon lobbyists, as are: former Clinton Assistant Treasury Secretary Jonathan Talisman; former aide to Republican House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA), Elizabeth Frazee; and former Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee counsel Holly Fechner.
Government watchdog groups say Amazon’s active lobbying efforts may create conflicts of interest with its new acquisition of the Washington Post.
“They have a huge number of issues before the federal government and now he’s bought the hometown paper for covering those politicians,” Sunlight Foundation editorial director Bill Allison told Bloomberg. “There’s always a concern you’re going to have a conflict when you have wealthy publisher. Given all of Amazon’s issues, it’s hard to see where Bezos won’t have a conflict.”
The online retailer shows no signs of slowing down its lobbying efforts. In the first six months of 2013, Amazon had increased spending on lobbying 31% over the same period the year prior.