Special to WorldTribune, November 23, 2021 247 Real News
Don’t call it a bribe.
In the full spirit of the infamous Clinton Foundation, the richest man in the world just dropped a pile of money into the lap of an ultra-connected former president who is in position to provide many a useful service to him.
News item: Amazon and Washington Post owner Jeff Bezos donates $100 million to the Obama Foundation: Because it takes nine figures to change the name on a sign (bold added throughout this article):
Today [Nov. 22], the Obama Foundation announced Jeff Bezos is giving $100M – the largest individual contribution received to date — in honor of civil rights icon Congressman John Lewis, and to help expand the scope of programming that reaches emerging leaders in the United States and around the world. As part of the gift, Bezos has asked for the Plaza at the Obama Presidential Center to be named the John Lewis Plaza. The Plaza is an important amenity to the surrounding community and will welcome nearly a million visitors a year.
How exactly is $100 million required to do this?
With the gift from Bezos, the Foundation is seeking to change the paradigm around naming public spaces within the Center, using it as an opportunity to give donors the option to honor and elevate the names of those who have fought for a more just and equitable world. Dedicated public spaces at the Center will honor civil rights icons, social justice heroes, and changemakers in public service, business and entertainment.
The foundation is getting the overwhelmingly hefty donation in straight cash… and look at what it is allegedly going for:
The Obama Foundation will use the money to “expand the scope” of programming focusing on leadership, including the foundation’s Girls Opportunity Alliance, My Brother’s Keeper and the Global Leaders Program. Courtney Williams, communications director for the Obama Foundation, said the foundation will receive $100 million in cash — not Amazon stock like last week’s donations.
Could they possibly be more vague? An Obama Foundation video hailing the donation notes that the Bezos windfall will help support “boys and young men of color” and “girls around the world” by furthering “change” and “sustainable work.”
The Clintons were more specific about Haiti.
A couple of things to consider:
- It is a common assumption that Obama runs the Biden administration and retains major control over the Democratic Party.
- Congressional Democrats are currently trying to give Bezos $10 billion for his space ventures:
[Senate Majority Leader Chuck] Schumer also faces opposition on his side of the aisle. Senate Budget Committee Chairman Bernie Sanders, a Vermont Independent who caucuses with Democrats, said in a statement he opposes USICA’s inclusion in the defense bill, which he also opposes.
Sanders called USICA “corporate welfare, with no strings attached, for a handful of extremely profitable microchip companies” and said he opposes its inclusion of $10 billion toward a NASA project contracted to Jeff Bezos’s space company, Blue Origin, as a “handout.”
Here is how the game is played. Headline:
Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin hires lobbyist with ties to Obama administration after space tax proposal.
From the article:
Bezos’ Blue Origin recently hired Mac Campbell from Capitol Counsel to lobby on behalf of the company to “monitor and evaluate proposed changes to the Internal Revenue Code being considered by Congress as part of the budget reconciliation process,” according to a lobbying registration form. Campbell registered to lobby for the company in October.
Campbell was an assistant U.S. trade representative for congressional affairs while working in Obama’s executive office before moving on to the powerful Senate Finance Committee. His other clients include Lockheed Martin, Las Vegas Sands and Pacific Mutual, according to data from the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics.
Blue Origin has already spent over $1.3 million on lobbying this year alone. In 2020, the space company invested nearly $2 million trying to influence lawmakers. Bezos, who has a net worth of over $200 billion according to Forbes, stepped down as Amazon’s CEO earlier this year to focus on other ventures like Blue Origin and the Washington Post, which he owns.
The picture is starting to come into focus. What’s $100 million if you are poised to net $10 billion in taxpayer money?
Things get even sleazier. Theodore Schleifer at Puck News reports:
I’m told the $100 million was midwifed by Jay Carney, Bezos’ political sherpa and the former Obama press secretary. Carney ran point for Bezos, and Obama eventually spoke directly with the Amazon C.E.O. earlier this year. The two are not close, but “have seen each other socially from time to time,” Valerie Jarrett, the Obama family’s longtime aide-de-camp told me.
Carney is Bezos’ point man in DC:
Tax rates are just one part of the broader advocacy role Carney envisions for Amazon, which, according to OpenSecrets.org, spent $18.23 million on lobbying in 2020, and is well on its way to setting a new corporate record for lobbying in 2021.
Carney used to work for Joe Biden as well as Obama:
Carney jumped from journalism to politics in 2009, becoming communications director for Vice President Joe Biden. He spent more than five years with the Obama administration, the last three running the president’s press office, before leaving in 2014 to work as a political analyst for CNN.
To lure Carney out of the news and politics realm, Bezos created a top-level position for him running public relations and public policy. He also made the highly unusual decision to immediately add Carney to the S-team, a group with very little turnover that includes the senior-most employees, such as Andy Jassy, CEO of Amazon Web Services; Jeff Wilke, CEO of the consumer business, and CFO Brian Olsavsky.
Showing astonishing brazenness, Amazon has a fitting term to describe throwing around money to useful political figures such as Obama. CNBC reported in 2019:
Every policy team member’s performance is tracked through a rigorous internal program called “Watering the flowers.” The flowers represent elected officials, and the goal is to create a well-tended “garden” of pro-Amazon policymakers, from state governors and senators down to local officials and economic development teams, according to current and former employees. Based on sales management software from Salesforce, the program measures employees on things like how many meetings and events they attend with power players.
Barack and Michelle Obama just got watered to the tune of $100 million.
One last bit from that 2019 article. Ron Klain is Biden’s White House Chief of Staff. What a cozy network:
Carney remains close with his Washington insider friends such as Klain. His wife, Claire Shipman, was a senior national correspondent for ABC News, and she previously covered the White House for NBC News. They have two kids, who go to the same school that Obama’s children attended. Their daughter plays soccer, and their son is the lead singer for a rock band called Twenty20, which includes three other children of former White House staffers.
There is only one word to sum up this kind of government, which on the federal level has had its boot on the neck of the American people since at least 1988: