Amazon founder and billionaire Jeff Bezos has a plan for dealing with criticism from lawmakers who oversee the regulations affecting his business. He is now planning to make a $100 million donation to the Obama Foundation, a strategic move for establishing a stronger foothold in the Democratic Party establishment.
Jay Carney was a daily figure in the Obama administration when he served as White House press secretary. Carney is now an upper-echelon Amazon executive and has arranged the Bezos gift to his former boss’s charity. The gift, which comes with “no strings attached,” is the largest ever made to the Obama Foundation.
The contribution comes amid political discomfort Amazon has felt among conservatives and the progressive left. The company has received scrutiny for its labor practices and possible antitrust violations made possible by its immense market power. Amazon has been blasted for banning conservative writers who have taken positions against transgender politics and the Black Lives Matter movement.
Carney, who had also served as Joe Biden’s communications director when he was vice president, was given the job of finding ways to put Amazon in the good graces of the Biden administration and Democratic lawmakers. He has increased the company’s lobbying team by around ten-fold to 250 members. It has been reported that he has already been able to stop measures to protect consumers’ privacy in 25 states.
Bezos has also taken heat recently from former senator and NASA administrator Bill Nelson, who has blamed the Bezos project Blue Origin for impairing plans for the U.S. to return to the moon. Blue Origin has litigation against NASA over a contract awarded to Elon Musk’s competing firm SpaceX.
The Obama Foundation marks the first time a presidential library has been set up as a politically partisan nonprofit organization. All other presidential libraries and museums have been managed by the National Archives and Records Administration.
Historians and commentators have expressed concern that the foundation will become little more than a partisan slush fund. Substantial gifts have already been made to the nonprofit by Bezos’ ex-wife MacKenzie Scott and Bill and Melinda Gates.