News and Commentary

SLICK! Democrat VA Governor To Amazon: We’ll Protect You From FOIA Problems

Online retail giant Amazon will be opening two new headquarters — one in New York and one in Virginia. Each state gave the billion-dollar company gobs of money to woo it to open up shop, but Virginia went a step further and gave Amazon something that should worry every journalist and anyone else concerned with transparency and the connection between the State and Big Business.

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam, a Democrat, has promised Amazon that the Old Dominion State would give the company two days’ notice about any Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests. This is being done to allow Amazon “to seek a protective order or other appropriate remedy.” So, Amazon will be given a heads up about anyone looking into the business so they can shut it down.

The Virginia government also promised it would only disclose what is required under applicable law, cooperate “with the company,” in responding, and “limit disclosure, refuse to disclose, and redact and/or omit portions of materials to the maximum extent permitted by applicable law.”


This portion of the agreement was noticed by journalist Benjamin Freed, who tweeted out the relevant section.

In addition to working with Amazon to keep reporters and other citizens from snooping around into the business, the city of Arlington will also give the company $573 million. This amount includes $22,000 per job for a promised 25,000 jobs plus an extra $23 million cash grant. Amazon is expected to produce jobs with an average wage of over $150,000 over the next 12 years. The extra $23 million will come from “incremental growth of the existing local Transient Occupancy Tax, a tax on hotel rooms.”

Jim Geraghty of National Review summed up the deal perfectly.

“In other words, Arlington is raising taxes in order to pay Amazon to locate there. This is not how government and taxation are supposed to work,” Geraghty wrote (emphasis original). “This deal should be tattooed onto the forehead of Governor Ralph Northam. Never let a Virginia Democrat ever claim that Republicans are ‘in the pocket of big business and special interests’ again.”

Geraghty also pointed out that we can’t expect The Washington Post to “stand up to this giant corporate giveaway” since Jeff Bezos owns the Post as well as Amazon.

New York is giving Amazon even more money, to the tune of $1.525 billion to create the same number of jobs: 25,000. The Empire State is paying $48,000 to Amazon for each of the created jobs plus a $325 million cash grant.

Oh, and both locations are getting a helipad. We can’t expect Bezos to drive in the nasty D.C. or New York City traffic, can we?

Amazon will also open a smaller location in Nashville, TN. That state will give the company $102 million for 5,000 new jobs.