Tuesday, November 30, 2021

Obama Foundation accepts $100M donation from Jeff Bezos

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Barack Obama has a big new backer: Jeff Bezos.

The Amazon founder and world’s second richest man is donating a whopping $100 million to the former president’s charity, the Obama Foundation said Monday.

The donation comes as Amazon seeks to fend off challenges from the Biden administration. 

As part of the donation, Bezos has asked that Obama rename the plaza at his controversial Chicago presidential center in honor of former Congressman and civil rights advocate John R. Lewis, according to the Obama Foundation.

In a release sent to The Post, Bezos gushed that he’s “thrilled to support President and Mrs. Obama and their Foundation in its mission to train and inspire tomorrow’s leaders.” 

Bezos’ $100 million donation — which represents less than 0.1 percent of his estimated $210 billion fortune — is the largest individual contribution ever received by Obama’s foundation. It’s also one-fifth of the reported $500 million Bezos recently spent on a yacht.

The donation was arranged by Jay Carney, a former Obama press secretary and Amazon’s current public policy and public relations chief, according to Puck News, which first reported the donation.

Obama and Bezos spoke directly to each other earlier this year and have occasionally seen each other socially, the outlet reported. 

Jeff Bezos is worth an estimated $210 billion.
Jeff Bezos is worth an estimated $210 billion.
FilmMagic

Bezos’ buddying with Obama comes as Amazon clashes bitterly with the Biden administration over antitrust issues. Lina Khan, the Biden-appointed chief of the Federal Trade Commission, has a long history of blasting what she says are anticompetitive practices by Amazon and is reportedly probing the company’s $8.5 billion purchase of movie studio MGM.

Citing past criticisms Khan had made of Bezos’ empire, Amazon demanded in June that she recuse herself from any FTC probes of the company. 

Amazon is also trying to fend off legislators in Congress, some of whom are chomping at the bit to take on Big Tech through bills that would stop Amazon from favoring its own products in search results or even break up the company altogether. 

The Obama Foundation was vague about what Bezos’ money will be spent on, writing that the cash will give “the next generation of emerging leaders… the necessary tools, resources, and training needed to be the change they want to see in the world, just as Congressman Lewis did.” 

The Obama Foundation’s $500 million presidential center on Chicago’s South Side, however, has attracted backlash from some residents, who have blasted the former president for cutting down trees in a historic park and fostering gentrification.  

The Obama Foundation is building a $500 million presidential center on Chicago's South Side.
The Obama Foundation is building a $500 million presidential center on Chicago’s South Side.
Getty Images

Obama has defended the center, saying, “The overwhelming majority of the community has been not just okay with it, but are hugely enthusiastic about it.” 

Other tech moguls who have donated to the Obama Foundation include Bezos’ ex-wife Mackenzie Scott, Bill and Melinda Gates and ex-Facebook president and Napster founder Sean Parker.

The donation was reportedly arranged by Jay Carney, Obama's former press secretary who is now an Amazon executive.
The donation was reportedly arranged by Jay Carney, Obama’s former press secretary who is now an Amazon executive.
AP



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