Contributions from Amazon staff helped Councilmember Kshama Sawant defeat recall

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Seattle City Councilmember Kshama Sawant in her office at City Hall in 2019. (GeekWire File Photo / Monica Nickelsburg)

Amazon employees were among the top contributors to the campaign that helped Seattle City Councilmember Kshama Sawant, an outspoken critic of the company, defeat a recall effort.

People who listed Amazon or Whole Foods as their employer contributed $11,149.24 to the Kshama Solidarity Campaign, the fourth-largest of any employee group, according to Seattle Ethics and Elections Commission data. Thirty-three contributors were Amazon employees, and two were Whole Foods employees, records show.

Source: Seattle Ethics and Elections Commission.

Employees of Microsoft, Facebook, and Google were also among the top contributors to the Kshama Solidarity Campaign, according to the campaign contribution records.

On the other side of the issue, Amazon and Whole Foods employees contributed a total of $4,400 to the Recall Sawant campaign and to the political action committee A Better Seattle in support of the recall.

The contributions were a small portion of the more than $1 million raised by the groups seeking to recall Sawant, and the more than $984,000 raised by the Kshama Solidarity Campaign. However, the contributions show the diversity of political viewpoints emerging inside Amazon, particularly as the company continues to grow.

Amazon has been facing increasing pressure from workers in its warehouses seeking to unionize. The National Labor Relations Board has ordered a new union election in Bessemer, Ala., site of a high-profile union effort this year, after a an NLRB hearing officer determined some of Amazon’s tactics improper.

Sawant, who is affiliated with the Socialist Alternative Party, led controversial efforts to tax Amazon and other large Seattle employers to fund social services in the city, criticizing Amazon over the impact of its growth. She won re-election in 2019, as Amazon spent heavily to support a business-friendly slate of candidates, without much success.

“Seattle was like a test lab,” Sawant said after that 2019 election victory, referencing Amazon’s spending. “If we allowed them to get away with it here, then we can be sure they’re going to go after other cities as well.”

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The recall focused on alleged ethics and policy violations, which Sawant and her supporters argued did not meet the bar for recalling her from office. Sawant defeated the recall in Council District 3 by 310 votes: 20,656 (50.38%) to 20,346 (49.62%), according to results certified Friday by King County Elections officials.

Amazon declined to comment. We’ve contacted Sawant’s office and the Solidarity Campaign for comment.

The mail-in recall election was held Dec. 7. The campaign contribution totals are current as of Dec. 13.

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