NEWS RELEASE – Sept. 5, 2018
Amazon founder and owner of the Washington Post Jeff Bezos is venturing further into the political arena with a $10 million donation to help get more veterans of both parties elected to Congress.
Bezos, the world’s richest man, has long shied away from making major political or philanthropic contributions. But that changed Wednesday when he announced that he will donate $10,000,000 toward a nonpartisan organization and super PAC called With Honor.
With Honor is a fairly new PAC, which is currently backing 33 candidates—19 Democrats and 14 Republicans—with the goal of getting at least 20 from both parties elected to the U.S. House of Representatives during the midterms. The Bezos donation makes up one-third of the group’s $30 million funding goal.
Bezos and his wife, MacKenzie, are putting up a third of the organization’s stated $30 million goal and are investing alongside fellow billionaires Alice and Jim Walton, Howard Schultz, Les Wexner and Julian Robertson.
Over the year, the 54-year old has contributed small sums to Democratic candidates, both federal and local. He also put up $2.5 million last year to defend gay marriage in Washington State. Yet his political donations do not begin to rival the amounts spent by others like casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, who has kicked in $55 million to help Republicans in this year’s midterm elections.
Despite his vast wealth, Bezos has not made philanthropy a priority either, and his public gifts are few and far between. Only recently has he begun to show more of an interest in giving away some money. In January he donated $33 million to fund college scholarships for 1,000 undocumented immigrant high school students who live in the U.S. with Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) status. Bezos’ father came to the U.S. from Cuba at the age of 16.
Bezos might be a fairly apolitical person publicly, but he has been drawn into politics repeatedly in the past year, as President Donald Trump has made both Amazon and the Washington Post targets of Tweetstorms (and gone after Bezos personally as well). Those attacks temporarily cost Bezos billions in net worth, though he has long since regained it.
In the summer of 2017, Bezos tweeted a request for philanthropy ideas and shed some light on how he was approaching the matter. “I’m thinking I want much of my philanthropic activity to be helping people in the here and now—short term—at the intersection of urgent need and lasting impact,” he said, noting that this would be a departure from the long-term mentality he takes with his business.