Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi presenting the USIBC Global Leadership Award to Bezos, in Washington, D.C. on June 7, 2016
According to public campaign finance records, Bezos supported the electoral campaigns of Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell, two Democratic U.S. senators from Washington. He has also supported U.S. representative John Conyers, as well as Patrick Leahy and Spencer Abraham, U.S. senators serving on committees dealing with Internet-related issues. Jeff Bezos and MacKenzie Bezos have supported the legalization of same-sex marriage, and in 2012 contributed $2.5 million to Washington United for Marriage, a group supporting a yes vote on Washington Referendum 74, which affirmed a same-sex marriage law enacted in the state. Bezos donated $100,000 towards a movement against a Washington state income tax in 2010 for "top earners". In 2012, he donated to Amazon's political action committee (PAC), which has given $56,000 and $74,500 to Democrats and Republicans, respectively.
After the 2016 presidential election, Bezos was invited to join Donald Trump's Defense Innovation Advisory Board, an advisory council to improve the technology used by the Defense Department. Trump has repeatedly attacked Bezos via Twitter, accused Bezos of avoiding corporate taxes, gaining undue political influence, and undermining his presidency by spreading "fake news".
In 2014, Amazon won a bid for a cloud computing contract with the CIA valued at $600 million. A 2018, $10 billion contract known as the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (JEDI) project, this time with the Pentagon, was allegedly written up in a way that favors Amazon. Controversy over this was raised when General James Mattis accepted a headquarters tour invitation from Bezos and co-ordinated the deal through Sally Donnelly, a lobbyist who previously worked for Amazon. In November 2019, when the contract was awarded to Microsoft instead, Amazon filed a lawsuit with allegations that the bidding process was biased. Despite Bezos's support for an open borders policy towards immigrants, Amazon has actively marketed facial recognition software to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
In 2019, a political action committee linked to Bezos spent over $1 million in an unsuccessful attempt to defeat activist Kshama Sawant in Seattle's city council election.
Saudi hacking claim
Jamal Khashoggi and Assassination of Jamal Khashoggi
In March 2018, Bezos met in Seattle with Mohammad bin Salman, the crown prince and de facto ruler of Saudi Arabia, to discuss investment opportunities for Saudi Vision 2030. In March 2019, Bezos's security consultant accused the Saudi government of hacking Bezos's phone. According to BBC, Bezos's top security staffer, Gavin de Becker, "linked the hack to the Washington Post's coverage of the murder of Saudi writer Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul". Khashoggi, a Saudi journalist and dissident was employed as a writer at the Washington Post, owned by Bezos. Khashoggi was killed in late 2018, in Turkey's Saudi consulate for his critical stance and journalism against the Saudi government and its leader.
In January 2020, The Guardian reported that hack was initiated before the murder but after Khashoggi wrote critically about the crown prince in the Washington Post. Forensic analysis of Bezos's mobile phone conducted by advisory firm FTI Consulting, concluded it "highly probable" that the hack was achieved using a malicious file hidden in a video sent in a WhatsApp message to Bezos from the personal account of the crown prince on May 1, 2018. Saudi Arabia has denied the claim.
Bezos funded the retrieval of these F-1 engine parts from the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean in 2015, eventually donating them to the Seattle Museum of Flight. They are from Apollo 16 (above) and Apollo 12 (below)
Bezos donated to the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center several times between 2009 and 2017. In 2013, he pledged $500,000 to Worldreader, a non-profit founded by a former Amazon employee.
In September 2018, Business Insider reported that Bezos was the only one of the top five billionaires in the world who had not signed the Giving Pledge, an initiative created by Bill Gates and Warren Buffett that encourages wealthy people to give away a majority of their wealth. That same month, Janet Camarena, director of transparency initiatives at Foundation Center, was quoted by CNBC as having questions about Bezos's new fund, including the fund's structure and how exactly it will be funded.
In May 2017, Bezos gave $1 million to the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, which provides pro bono legal services for American journalists. On June 15, 2017, he posted a message on Twitter asking for ideas for philanthropy: "I'm thinking about a philanthropy strategy that is the opposite of how I mostly spend my time—working on the long term". At the time of the post, Bezos's lifetime spending on charitable causes was estimated to be $100 million. Multiple opinion columnists responded by asking Bezos to pay higher wages to Amazon warehouse workers. A year later in June, he tweeted that he would announce two philanthropic foci by the end of summer 2018. Bezos announced in September 2018 that he would commit approximately $2 billion to a fund to deal with American homelessness and establish a network of non-profit preschools for low income communities. As part of this announcement, he committed to establishing the "Day 1 Families Fund" to finance "night shelters and day care centers for homeless families" and the "Day 1 Academies Fund" for early childhood education.
In January 2018, Bezos made a $33 million donation to TheDream.US, a college scholarship fund for undocumented immigrants brought to the United States as minors. [better source needed] In June 2018, Bezos donated to Breakthrough Energy Ventures, a private philanthropic fund founded by Bill Gates aimed at promoting emissions-free energy. In September 2018, Bezos donated $10 million to With Honor, a nonpartisan organization that works to increase the number of veterans in political office.
In February 2020, Bezos pledged $10 billion to combat climate change through the Bezos Earth Fund. Later that year, in November, Bezos announced $791M of donations to established, well-known groups, with $100M each going to Environmental Defense Fund, Natural Resources Defense Council, The Nature Conservancy, World Resources Institute and World Wildlife Fund, and the remainder going to 11 other groups. In April 2020, early in the COVID-19 pandemic, Bezos donated $100 million to food banks through Feeding America.