An investigative report relying on publicly available data LinkedIn users share on the website shows that at least 247 former US federal government employees are now working for Amazon.
Mother Jones, who compiled this list, suggests that this may be only the tip of the iceberg as there is no official record to show where former government officials and employees end up after leaving public service.
Available public data covering the past decade shows that out of these 247 new Amazon hires, 150 came from law enforcement and intelligence agencies – including NSA, CIA, and FBI – and that a majority – some 200 people – joined Amazon in the last three years, since 2017.
Others who now work for Amazon are former staffers for many lawmakers like Dianne Feinstein, Thom Tillis, and dozens of others, as well as those who previously worked in the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, the Senate Finance Committee, the House Appropriations Committee, the House Judiciary Committee, and others.
The practice of hiring former government employees and vice-versa is not illegal in itself, and many other companies use it to recruit future lobbyists with good connections in high places in Washington. But Amazon still stands out, according to Revolving Door Project’s Jeff Hauser, who noted that there is “almost no department of the US government Amazon is not interested in.”
Others, like Timothy LaPira, a professor at James Madison University, thinks that Amazon is more interested in learning about the policy-making process behind closed doors, than outrightly trying to “buy access.”
Given Amazon’s huge slice of the retail market and the fact its owner, Jeff Bezos, is the richest person in the world, it’s clear the giant has a lot to protect, and a lot to lobby for.
Hence the fear that this “revolving door” might not be simply an innocent process of bringing best people for the job on board, who contribute technical know-how, “and work in positions in which they do not interact with the government” – instead, it could be a sign that Amazon wants to secure its influence on matters like regulation and contracting.
Like other tech giants, Amazon is at the same time spending more and more money on openly lobbying in Washington, with the 2020 number $2 million up from the year before, to reach $18.7 million.