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Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren weigh in on Amazon cash shaping District 3 race

Monday, Senator Bernie Sanders weighed in on what has — surprise, surprise —  become the biggest issue in the District 3 race for the Seattle City Council — campaign finance.

“In a city struggling with homelessness, Amazon is dropping an outrageous amount of money to defeat progressive candidates fighting for working people,” Sanders wrote in a social media post sharing a report from The Nation on the company’s targeting of D3 representative Kshama Sawant. “The way Amazon conducts itself in its hometown is a perfect example of the out-of-control corporate greed we are going to end,” Sanders wrote, adding his campaign pitch.

Monday’s message from Sanders followed another over the weekend from Senator Elizabeth Warren sharing the New York Times take on the situation.

“Surprise: Amazon is trying to tilt the Seattle City Council elections in their favor,” Warren wrote. “I’m with the Seattle council members and activists who continue standing up to Amazon. Corporations aren’t people, and I have a plan to get big money out of politics.”

Neither of the candidates is into local media, apparently.

But, with a relatively huge influx of corporate cash, the D3 race is now on the national stage as campaign finance threatens to overshadow every single issue at stake in the Central Seattle election.

Sawant challenger Egan Orion, head of the Broadway Business Improvement Area and organizer of PrideFest, has called the Amazon and corporate effort to fund the downtown chamber’s PAC “a distraction from the real issues” and says he will “pursue policies to limit outside spending” if elected. But, in the meantime, Orion stands to benefit most from the spending and the paid canvassing and mailers it has powered.

His candidate in the Democratic nomination race, so far, hasn’t had anything to say about little old District 3. Orion, who has done his own social media and marketing for his small businesses over the years, created the Washington for Beto social media effort in recent months but tells CHS he is ready to back other candidates. “I’m for Beto, Pete, Kamala, and Warren,” he said. “I’d be thrilled with any of them.”

Sawant, meanwhile, has been a big backer of Sanders since his last challenge for the nomination. In 2016, Sawant wrote a plea calling on Sanders to make an independent run for president. “Your grassroots campaign that we have all worked so hard to build is too important to let its fate be decided by a rigged primary which involves only a small minority of voters,” Sawant wrote three years ago. “Running in the general election will reach tens of millions more people and can be the start of building a new political party for the 99%.” It didn’t happen. And Sawant turned her attention to Jill Stein.

Given what came next, you might forgive local big “D” Democrats for holding a grudge against Sawant and left-leaning voters who couldn’t bring themselves to back Hillary Clinton. But others have let bygones be bygones. The 43rd District Democrats have opted to back Sawant even though she is a member of the Socialist Alternative political group. They, too, have spoken out about the Amazon cash and, maybe more importantly, have organized volunteers to canvass for the Socialist Alternative candidate in neighborhoods across D3.

CHS Di$trict 3 Coverage


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35 thoughts on “Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren weigh in on Amazon cash shaping District 3 race

    • Her campaign did spend over $1,400 on Amazon.com for office supplies! Maybe Amazon was just recycling the campaign funds to all, like all socialist want.
      Everyone wins, right?

    • What I love is Sawant’s campaign funds don’t even come from inside Seattle, who’s being bought???? Sawant supports are just as blind and bad as Trump supporters.

  1. Here’s another example of National politicians siting a local issue to promote their agenda. Too often these politicians use a broad brush to make their point without understanding any nuance. Yes, Amazon and other businesses have put large amounts of money into this campaign. And I believe that these donations should be very limited. But they are doing this within the law. I happen to agree with them that Orion is the better candidate. I own a very small business. I’ve lived on Capitol Hill for 40 years. In the early years I spent 30 or 40% of my income for an apartment. (This isn’t some “new” problem.) I voted for Ms. Sawant the first time she ran. I’ve since found her methods and rhetoric to be disturbing and not productive. To call Egan Orion as some Republican puppet or Amazonian is silly and clearly not based on any factual information. Just because he has the support of a company some of these candidates seem to target, doesn’t make Egan some evil doer. It just makes it clear that these politicians, and many of the people who have their underwear in a bunch over Amazon, unable to see anything as other than black and white. If you’re not for Kshama you must be one of those horrible Republicans.

    • Egan Orion is incredibly unqualified and is a puppet for Amazon. The amount of money Amazon is spending to sway OUR elections is an afront to democracy and disgusting on so many levels. A vote for him is a vote to continue corporate influence in our elections for generations to come.

      • You claim that Egan is a puppet of Amazon. Based on what? That some people at Amazon, and a number of other people have donated money to a PAC that he has nothing to do with and has stated that they are a “distraction from the real issues.” A larger percentage of Sawant’s donations come from outside Seattle. So is she beholden to people who don’t live here? Because this seems to be your logic.

      • Based on the fact that Orion is readily accepting 1.5 million from an Amazon backed PAC that is seeking to influence and buy OUR local election. How is something so simple so hard for you to grasp? I wish you could understand simple logic but it seems you’ve beer bonged the corporate Kool Aid.

      • @sasha

        You didn’t answer @HT$3’s comment about Sawant’s donations from people outside of Seattle. Those are OUTSIDE people trying to interfere with OUR elections. Why aren’t you upset about that? Who’s is pulling Sawant’s strings and why? By your logic, only candidates who receive money directly from people voting in the upcoming election are worthy of consideration. I’d be more concerned about people with no skin in Seattle trying to make choices for our community. That’s pretty simple to grasp; right?

      • @zeebleoop This is a very important point I’m glad you’ve wedged into our discussion:The difference is the people donating to her campaign are actual people. The difference between you and I is I don’t believe corporations are people while you seem to embrace it. Regardless of the candidate, I am not ashamed to be concerned that actual real people’s voices will be drowned out by corporate spending seeking to manipulate our elections. Today it effects a candidate I support tomorrow it may be one you support. I don’t trust Amazon, and I don’t trust the stooges they prop up in our local elections. This is a horrible and shameful precedent you’re supporting.

      • @Sasha, I’ll point out the same thing to you that I did to @CalAnderson on this tired narrative being pushed by Ms. Sawant supporters. As you’ll see from the below breakout, Ms. Sawant’s campaign is significantly funded by individuals residing outside our district. She has raised about $221k from people within ALL of Seattle and $188k from folks living outside our city – that $188k figure dwarfs the $113k she’s raised from people in our district.

        Mr. Orion on the other hand has raised $230k from people living in our district ALONE – he raised $345K from residents citywide. Of the $345k Mr. Orion has raised from Seattle residents, $129k has come from democracy vouchers. He is 2nd among all candidates city wide in voucher funding received. Ms. Sawant of course has received $0 in democracy vouchers.

        Orion’s contributions received:
        + District 3 Residents: $230,206
        + Rest of Seattle Residents: $114,962
        + Individuals Outside City Limits: $34,108

        Sawant’s contributions received:
        + Individuals Outside City Limits: $188,301
        + District 3 Residents: $112,848
        + Rest of Seattle Residents: $97,792

        The TL;DR, Ms. Sawant relies heavily on people living outside of our city to fund her campaign while Mr. Orion’s campaign is mostly funded by individuals living in our district.

      • Brian N: Imagine not being able to reply to just one of my comments. Your cherry picked numbers can be easily refuted with one fact: the grand total of Orion’s ‘local’ money comes from maxed out contributions from wealthy 1% donors – many of whom are highly overpaid Amazon executives that use Seattle as their own personal income tax shelter and want to keep it that way. Unlike you, I’ll provide a source for that.

        https://www.nytimes.com/2019/10/18/technology/amazon-seattle-council-election.html

        Also, just so you know I won’t be responding to your usual trolling any further so keep frothing.

        From today’s NYT article:
        “The chamber’s PAC, fueled with Amazon’s cash, has spent almost twice as much on direct mail and canvassing in Ms. Sawant’s district as in any other race, campaign finance data shows. And that doesn’t include more than $16,000 that Amazon employees — largely executives — contributed to her opponent, Egan Orion. Jeff Wilke and Andy Jassy, who respectively run Amazon’s retail and cloud computing services, each maxed out the $500 that an individual can give, as did other Amazon leaders, including Jay Carney, who oversees lobbying and communications.”

      • @Sasha, gonna look past your weak snarkiness and dive into your points:

        1) Nothing cherry-picked about these figures, they’re laid out exactly as they are by the city’s Ethics and Elections Commission. If anyone would like to take a look for themselves, the numbers can be found here:
        http://web6.seattle.gov/ethics/elections/charts.aspx?cycle=2019&n1=contributions&n2=district&n3=candidates&n4=council&n5=campaign676&n6=amount#aChartTop

        2) Of the $380k Mr. Orion has raised, $129k has come from democracy vouchers – a program that was established to among other things help low income folks donate to candidates they support. He has been more successful at collecting democracy vouchers than any city council candidate not named Lisa Herbold. Also, with $230k in contributions from District 3 residents, Mr. Orion has raised more money from his constituents than any other city council candidate has from their respective constituents.

        3) Either you’re being intentionally deceitful or just ignorant when you conflate the money raised by PACs with money raised by each candidate’s campaign. I’ll go with the latter.

        You’re going to have to try harder if you want to demonstrate that Mr. Orion’s campaign isn’t heavily funded by folks living in District 3. You’re going to have to try REALLY hard to demonstrate that Ms. Sawant isn’t heavily funded by people living outside our city.

      • Sasha,

        According to the Puget Sound Business Journal, Sawant has received 269 donations of $500 or greater. Egan Orion has received 263 such donations. What was that you were saying about his money coming from maxed out donations from wealthy 1% donors? It seems Sawant has more than considerable support from those wealthy enough to plunk down the max, just like Egan’s supporters.

    • Glenn,

      From the same source I see that Orion has accepted $280,743 from an Amazon backed PAC while Sawant has accepted $0 in PAC money and before you echo Brian N’s blind ideology and bring up outside donors, I’ll remind you Sawant’s outside donors are actual people not corporations like Amazon.

      Average donation for Orion $143
      Average donation for Sawant $70
      Total donations for Orion 2,610
      Total donations for Sawant 5,763

      I hope these numbers put things in a much simpler perspective for you. On average, individual contributions to Sawant are far less than the contributions of Orion’s supporters.

      • They are? I’m pretty sure the majority of Egan’s are at least from the Seattle area, much less this state. Can’t say that for Sawant. Ever look at her flight to Brazil for the Socialist conference?

    • I am a supporter of Sanders or Warren for President, but I think they are out of line with their comments on our local election. It is not “corporate greed” (Sanders’ words) that Amazon is exhibiting….they are simply advocating for a candidate who they think would be the better choice.

      And I doubt that any of the Presidential candidates know any details about our local election, such as the fact that Sawant has raised most of her campaign funds from outside of King County, and outside Washington…..or the fact that she has been a very divisive and grandstanding councilperson.

  2. Jack: what in the world are you talking about? This council position is supposed to represent District 3. I just looked up the city’s records of donations directly to each candidate. They show that 27% of Sawant’s contributions are from District 3 donors, while 61% of Orion’s contributions are from District 3 donors. 45% of Sawant contributions are from outside the city limits, while only 9% of Orion’s are from outside the city. That means 91% of Orion’s donors actually live in Seattle! You can’t say that for Sawant.
    Egan has no control as to how PACs legally disperse their funds and it’s really ridiculous how his opponents act like he works exclusively for them. Compare that to Sawant who has acknowledged her obligation to her East Coast National Socialist organization.
    I want a candidate who cares about Seattle and especially District 3.

  3. All I need to know is that Savant wanted Sanders to run as a third party candidate and then supported Jill Stein when this did not happen. Thanks, idiot(s)…hope you enjoy the destruction that the orange menace and his party are leaving everywhere. Will we survive until the next election? Will there be one? How about if he wins or loses and does not leave? My family experienced the rise of Hitler in the early 1930ies…he too rose to power because the left squabbled over small beans …and they all – communists or social democrats ended up killed.

      • Yet you claim that Orion is a puppet of Amazon. This because some big donations to a PAC that supports him, and some other candidates, are from people who work at Amazon. There is no proof that this comes with strings attached. These people happen to think that he is a better candidate, as stated by “including me” above.

  4. FYI, my Amazon job along with about 10k others are being moved to the eastside over the next 2 years largely due to the divisive politics and unfriendly atmosphere created by sawant
    guess what that means?
    A shit ton of empty apartments, restaurants, coffee shops, venues,uber rides.
    Good job sawant, that and the inevitable recession will be the end of many server jobs, dishwashers, hair stylists,…………

    • Cry my a river. A shit ton of empty apartments would be great for Seattle and bring down the skyrocketing rents they’ve forced on the hospitality workers serving your craft cocktails. As a long time resident I remember a time before Amazon parked their campus in the middle of our city and life was a lot easier for everyone. Sawant has passed meaningful legislation to raise the minimum wage and tax Amazon to pay for the unafordbility crisis they created. Don’t let the door hit you on the way out.

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