Sen. Bernie Sanders is reportedly experiencing some “impassioned dissent” among his campaign staff over the use of Amazon to purchase office supplies.
The Vermont senator and 2020 Democratic presidential candidate has repeatedly attacked Amazon on the campaign trail but has raised concerns on his campaign over the large purchases made through the online retail giant, according to a report in The Washington Post.
The Post, which is owned by Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, cited “five people with knowledge of the situation” in its report, which revealed there were “internal protests” in the Sanders campaign over the purchases which were made despite the 2020 hopeful’s attacks on the company for paying no federal taxes on billions of dollars in profits as well as treatment of its employees.
Sanders has frequently vowed to break up the Seattle-based e-commerce company if he is elected president.
A senior Sanders campaign aide in New Hampshire, Carli Stevenson, had reportedly spoken directly with national campaign officials about using Amazon and had urged the use of alternative companies to meet the needs. New Hampshire political director William Bateson also shared his opposition to using Amazon, according to the sources.
But more than $233,000 was spent on Amazon purchases through September, according to campaign finance records which showed much of that was for office supplies using Amazon’s Marketplace.
According to the Washington Post:
“We agree that too few companies have too much power over our economy and our media in America and they often don’t pay their fair share of taxes, which is why a Sanders administration will take them on,” Sanders campaign spokesman Mike Casca said in a statement.
The Post reported that Casca “declined to answer questions on why the campaign opted to use Amazon, whether Sanders (I-Vt.) was aware of the campaign’s purchasing practices and whether it was still using the retailer.”
New Hampshire campaign staffers also reportedly pushed back on the use of the online lodging marketplace, Airbnb, back in April. The use of Airbnb for traveling campaign employees apparently sparked a protest as some have criticized the housing broker for its negative impact on hotel workers and home prices in the area.
Washington Post reported:
These internal disputes, which have not been previously reported, underline a basic tension in the Sanders campaign: Many employees see it as not just a bid for office but a social movement that stands for workers’ rights and reining in big corporations. Some have privately vented that the campaign doesn’t always live up to those ideals.
Campaign finance records showed that the almost $82,000 total was spent on office supplies at other retailers including Staples, Apple, Target, Office Depot and Wal-Mart. Stevenson, who now serves as a state coordinator in Indiana, had suggested the campaign use Green Office instead of Amazon in an effort to stay in line with the values touted by the Vermont lawmaker.
Bloomberg News noted that Sanders, as well as staunch Amazon critic Sen. Elizabeth Warren, have outspent their 2020 Democratic rivals in Amazon purchases of office supplies through September, despite the vocal attacks on the company.
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who has endorsed Sanders’ bid for the presidency, has also openly denounced Amazon.
The New York Democrat came under heavy fire last year after she launched a war against the company which was planning to open another headquarters in New York City. After protests from the left and attacks from the freshman congresswoman about the $3 billion in state and local subsidies the company was being offered, Amazon backed out of the deal that would have brought 25,000 jobs to the city.
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