The politics of Jeff Bezos

August 7, 2013

Unless you've been living under a rock, you've probably heard that The Washington Post will soon be coming under new ownership.


This is Jeff Bezos. (Emmanuel Dunand/AFP/Getty Images)

Jeffrey P. Bezos, the founder of Amazon.com will be taking the reins. Bezos, 49, has done most of his political talking with his checkbook, shelling out millions in support of gay marriage last year and thousands more over the years on behalf of mostly Democratic candidates. Those who know Bezos say he has libertarian leanings.

Here, in more detail, are the five biggest things to know about his politics:

1. He gave big to defend gay marriage last year. Bezos's most notable step into the political arena came in 2012, when he put a whopping $2.5 million into the campaign to defend gay marriage in the state of Washington. It was the largest donation of its kind, and came in response to to an appeal from a former Amazon employee, according to the Seattle Times. The former employee had asked Bezos to chip in less than a tenth of what he and his wife ended up giving.

2. He's been described as a libertarian. Early Amazon investor Nick Hanauer has described Bezos as a libertarian. And Bezos has donated to the nonprofit organization that publishes Reason.com, the Web site of the libertarian magazine with the same name. He also put $100,000 toward the defeat of a 2010 measure that would have imposed an income tax on top earners in the Evergreen State.

3. He's mostly given to Democratic candidates. Campaign finance records show that Bezos has mostly given to Democratic candidates for federal and state office, including Washington's two senators, Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell. He's donated money over the years to Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.), Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and then-Sen. Spencer Abraham (R-Mich.), all of whom served on the either the House or Senate Judiciary committees, which, as Political Moneyline notes, are responsible for some Internet-related issues. Bezos also gave to former eBay CEO Meg Whitman (R), who lost in the 2010 California governor's race.

4. His mother and stepfather were big supporters of charter schools. Bezos's mother and stepfather gave a total of $1 million in 2012 in support of an education initiative that narrowly passed. The measure will allow up to 40 charter schools to open in Washington state during the next five years. Meanwhile, Bezos gave $100,000 to support charter schools in a 2004 referendum.

5. Amazon's PAC gives to both parties: It's also worth noting that Amazon.com has a political action committee, to which Bezos and his wife have donated. The PAC split its donations pretty evenly between Republican and Democratic candidates for Congress last cycle. Democratic House and Senate contenders received $93,000, while Republicans got $86,500, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

Fixbits:

President Obama told Jay Leno he is "frustrated" by Russia's decision to grant Edward Snowden asylum.

It looks like Detroit's next mayor will either be Wayne County Sheriff Benny Napoleon or former Detroit Medical Center CEO Mike Duggan.

Here's an unlikely political alliance: Left-leaning Media Matters has joined the RNC's fight against CNN and NBC.

House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) played golf with Donald Trump.

Mitt Romney warned against a government shutdown.

Rep. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) officially announced his Senate campaign.

Rep. Rodney Alexander (R-La.) will retire.

Newark Mayor Cory Booker continued to dominate the fundraising battle in the New Jersey Senate race.

Must-reads: 

"Race is on to define Hillary Clinton’s potential presidential candidacy" -- Philip Rucker and Aaron Blake, Washington Post

"Leaders Fan Out for August Push" -- Meredith Shiner and Emma Dumain, Roll Call

-- Alice Crites contributed to this post

Sean Sullivan has covered national politics for The Washington Post since 2012.
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