Seattle city council bans most political spending by ‘foreign-influenced corporations’

Donald Miralle/Getty Images for Rock'n'Roll Marathon

The Seattle City Council banned most political spending by “foreign-influenced corporations” Monday in an effort to prevent international influence in city elections.

The legislation would prevent corporations with a single non-U.S. investor holding at least 1 percent ownership, or two or more holding at least 5 percent ownership, from contributing directly to Seattle candidates, to political races or through PACs, The Seattle Times reported. Companies that have a non-U.S. investor making decisions on its U.S. political activities will also be prevented from political spending. 

The bill is designed to close a loophole, as foreign individuals and foreign entities are already forbidden from giving political donations for U.S. elections, Council President M. Lorena González, who drafted the bill, said in her statement.

A spokeswoman for Mayor Jenny Durkan Kamaria Hightower said in a statement obtained by The Hill that while the bill will most likely face legal opposition, the mayor backs the legislation and “agrees that we need to continue to take steps to ensure transparency in our elections.”

González has said Amazon, which is based in Seattle, will be bound by the regulation. Amazon did not immediately return a request for comment.

The council has not accused Amazon of advancing foreign interests, but the legislation comes after the company supported a pro-business PAC with a $1 million donation for the November 2019 city elections. Five of the seven candidates supported by the PAC lost, according to the Times.

The seven major donors to PACs in the last election had a foreign owner with a more than 1 percent share in the company, the newspaper reported.

Seattle would be the largest city with such legislation, but St. Petersburg, Fla., passed a similar law in 2017. 

–Updated at 8:41 a.m.

Tags Amazon PAC Political contributions Seattle Seattle Washington
See all Hill.TV See all Video