President Donald Trump, left, and Sen. Bernie Sanders, right. (Creative Commons)
Reading Time: 3 minutes

Trashing Amazon is sport for President Donald Trump and Sen. Bernie Sanders.

“Only fools, or worse, are saying that our money losing Post Office makes money with Amazon. THEY LOSE A FORTUNE, and this will be changed,” Trump tweeted Aug. 2.

Sanders has lambasted Amazon for what he considers its unfair labor practices and not paying enough taxes. “And then I wonder why the Washington Post, which is owned by Jeff Bezos, who owns Amazon, doesn’t write particularly good articles about me. I don’t know why,” Sanders said at a campaign stop Tuesday in New Hampshire before toning down his criticism later that day.

But both presidential candidates are also cashing out — and in — with Amazon and its employees, according to a Center for Public Integrity analysis of federal campaign finance data.

Since March, when Sanders announced his 2020 presidential bid, his campaign committee has spent more than $139,000 on Amazon products and services, including office and event supplies, software and transportation, Federal Election Commission records show. Sanders’ still-active U.S. Senate campaign committee has also spent more than $4,100 since January 2019 on Amazon products.

The campaign of fellow Democratic presidential front-runner Elizabeth Warren has spent about $81,000 through Amazon. The Joe Biden and Kamala Harris presidential campaigns’ Amazon purchases have yet to crack five figures.

Since Trump officially filed re-election paperwork in January 2017, his presidential campaign has spent more than $45,000 on Amazon office supplies, FEC records indicate.

Amazon-related money also flows the other way.

Since March, about 2,400 employees of Amazon and subsidiaries such as Whole Foods have together given more than $100,000 to Sanders’ campaign, mostly in small amounts. 

These donors are identified in federal campaign records as the kinds of workers Sanders frequently supports and courts: warehouse workers, cashiers, customer service workers, drivers, bakers and cooks, among others. “Managers” and “software engineers” have also contributed to Sanders’ presidential bid. 

For Trump, Amazon employees making contributions of more than $200 have together contributed more than $13,000, federal records indicate. Amazon employees have likely contributed more, although the Trump campaign does not comprehensively reveal identifying information about its small-dollar donors, making an accurate calculation difficult. 

The Sanders campaign did not answer specific questions about its Amazon shopping habits. Campaign Manager Faiz Shakir emailed a statement to Public Integrity: “Senator Sanders has not flinched in taking on Amazon and other large corporate monopolies, and he will continue to take them on when he’s in the White House.”

The Trump campaign did not respond to requests for comment.

Jeff Bezos at the premiere of ‘The Post’ on December 14, 2017, in Washington, D.C. (Dennis Van Tine via AP/MediaPunch/IPX)

Both Trump and Sanders have tied much of their criticism of Amazon and Bezos to the coverage they receive in The Washington Post, which is owned by Bezos — the wealthiest person in the United States. 

Trump, for one, routinely tweets about the “Amazon Washington Post.” Sanders last year introduced the “Stop BEZOS” act,” which aims to tax companies that pay low wages and employ people who are eligible to receive public assistance such as public housing and supplemental nutrition benefits. 

Marty Baron, executive editor of The Washington Post, rejected any notion that Bezos controls the newspaper’s coverage.

“Jeff Bezos allows our newsroom to operate with full independence, as our reporters and editors can attest,” Baron said this week in his own newspaper.

Your support is crucial!

Our newsroom needs to raise $121,000 by end of the year so we can hold the power accountable and strengthen our democracy in 2024. Public Integrity doesn’t have paywalls and doesn’t accept advertising. We depend on individuals like you to sustain quality journalism.