Amazon upped its local politics game in recent weeks, throwing almost $1 million more into the Seattle City Council race for 2019.
The corporate behemoth put the money into the Civic Alliance for a Sound Economy (CASE) political action committee. CASE has spent its money on a mostly anti-incumbent, pro-business slate of candidates who could radically change the makeup of the City Council in 2020.
The political action committee is backed by the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce.
The addition brings Amazon’s spending up to nearly $1.5 million, a huge amount for Seattle’s local elections.
A Democratic legislative group fired back and protested in front of the Amazon Spheres in South Lake Union. Councilmember Kshama Sawant, one of the politicians targeted by the campaign, also spoke out in a statement.
“Amazon and Jeff Bezos dropped a million-dollar bomb on our city’s elections today, in a flagrant move to blow up Seattle’s democratic process,” Sawant wrote. “This attempt of a hostile, right-wing takeover is utterly unconscionable. It is also a call to action for ordinary people. We cannot allow Bezos to buy this election.”
The outpouring of corporate cash garnerned national attention, drawing recrimination from Democratic presidential candidates Sen. Bernie Sanders and Sen. Elizabeth Warren.
Councilmember Lorena Gonzalez proposed a change to local election law that would limit contributions to political action committees to $5,000 and prohibit contributions from people outside the United States. Every council candidate who did sit down with Real Change for our Q&A series supported that proposal.
Authors of a new report examining the building boom in high-end, luxury condos are urging local lawmakers to monitor the trend and work proactively to mitigate potential impacts on the local housing and real estate market.
The units in the eight buildings examined had an average condominium taxable property value of $2 million, and 12 percent were owned by limited liability corporations or trusts, which disguise ownership.
According to the Institute for Policy Studies, of the 1,635 units examined, only 39 percent were owned by people registered to vote at the property, a potential window into whether or not the owners actually live in the unit or instead use them as investments, a phenomenon observed in cities like New York and San Francisco.
The production of luxury units is not helping the acute affordable housing crisis in Seattle, the report says.
Ashley Archibald is a Staff Reporter covering local government, policy and equity. Have a story idea? She can be can reached at ashleya (at) realchangenews (dot) org. Follow Ashley on Twitter @AshleyA_RC
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