Faced with scorn from lawmakers on both sides of the aisle, Amazon billionaire Jeff Bezos appears ready to "grease" his way into the Democratic establishment with a $100 million donation to the Obama Foundation, according to Puck News.
The donation was arranged by Amazon executive and former Obama press secretary Jay Carney. The no-strings-attached gift comes as Bezos faces growing opposition from the left. The gift is the largest ever made to the foundation, which has chosen to forgo the traditional presidential library in favor of building a privately managed presidential center.
Bezos's donation comes at a difficult political moment for Amazon. Lawmakers from both parties fault the company for its poor treatment of workers and abuse of its market power. The company has also come under fire for banning conservative voices. This year, Amazon banned a book that criticizes transgender ideology and blocked an ad for a book that criticizes the Black Lives Matter movement.
Bezos has tasked Carney, who served as then-vice president Joe Biden's communications director, to ingratiate Amazon with Democratic lawmakers. Under Carney's leadership, Amazon's lobbying team has grown from about two dozen to 250 members. Reuters reported Friday that Carney has successfully lobbied to kill privacy protections for consumers in 25 states.
Amazon is not the only Bezos project to pique the ire of leading Democrats. NASA administrator and former Democratic senator Bill Nelson blamed Bezos's Blue Origin for causing a delay in a U.S. return to the moon. The space exploration company sued NASA after it lost a major contract to Elon Musk's SpaceX.
Obama's presidential center is the first presidential library or museum to be run by a partisan nonprofit, rather than by the National Archives and Records Administration. Bezos's ex-wife Mackenzie Scott and Bill and Melinda Gates have already made substantial donations to the center, which presidential scholars worry will become a partisan slush fund.
Activists on Chicago's South Side said the center will force out longtime neighborhood residents. The center received a tax-free, 99-year lease on almost 20 acres of public parkland from the city of Chicago, for $10 in total. The center will be allowed to charge fees and keep the profits.
Bezos has ramped up his philanthropy over the past four years, pledging millions of dollars to liberal causes and figures. Earlier this year, he pledged $1 billion to conservation efforts and gave $100 million to CNN contributor Van Jones.