Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) loves using online mega-retailers as a punching bag, emblematic of everything that is “wrong” with “corporate greed” and “capitalism,” but his campaign used Amazon as a preferred vendor, the Washington Post reports, causing fractures between members of his team.
The free market, it turns out, makes things super convenient for cash-strapped campaigns, even if they’re in service of a self-described “Democratic socialist.”
“Impassioned dissent erupted within the Sanders campaign earlier this year over its purchases of large amounts of supplies through Amazon, according to five people with knowledge of the situation. Carli Stevenson, then a senior Sanders campaign aide in New Hampshire, raised concerns directly with national campaign officials and suggested using a different company, three of the people said,” The Post reported Tuesday.
Although the report doesn’t go into detail over what supplies, precisely, came from the online retail giant, the Washington Post reports that the Sander campaign spent a staggering $233,000 on Amazon products, including office supplies, even as the campaign’s fearless leader — Sanders himself — railed against billionaire Jeff Bezos and his company on social media and in campaign speeches.
“Another New Hampshire staffer, state political director William Bateson, also voiced opposition to using Amazon, according to two of the people with knowledge of the situation,” The Post said. ” The Sanders campaign continued using Amazon despite the concerns. Through September, it had spent more than $233,000 on Amazon purchases — much of it in office supplies, and often through Amazon’s Marketplace feature — a review of campaign finance records shows.”
The campaign’s spending on Amazon is a small fraction of the more than $40 million it shelled out on operating expenditures during the same period,” The Post added. “But it was more than other campaigns spent on the company, and more than enough to prompt surprise and complaints from staffers who felt it conflicted with the campaign’s principles.”
The Sanders’ campaign says that it’s hard to find acceptable online office supplies retailers, even though both Staples and Quill Corporation offer similar deals and free shipping, just like their main online competitor, Amazon.
“I hear you on amazon but who is the paragon of virtue in . . . office supplies?” I hear uline is terrible. Cant beleive (sic) staples is a great company but happy to shown I’m wrong,” a spokesperson for the campaign told the Post in an email.
Staples doesn’t disclose its corporate giving (Open Secrets suggests that the company doesn’t make political donations). Quill doesn’t seem to be large enough to make major gifts or engage in any lobbying. And, more importantly, neither Staples nor Quill has been a prime target of the Sanders campaign (Uline is a Republican-owned company).
For the record, Amazon actually does pay taxes, contrary to Sanders’ routine assertions. Forbes reports that, over the last several years, the mega-retailer has paid millions, if not billions, in state and local taxes, payroll taxes, and income taxes. Thanks to deals inked with state and local governments, they do avoid a large share of property and corporate taxes, and the company structures its growth so that it reinvests its profits in further development.