Amazon hires Trump-allied lobbyist as president threatens to intervene in battle over cyber contract

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Jeff Bezos, founder and chief executive officer of Inc., listens during an Economic Club of Washington discussion in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Thursday, Sept. 13, 2018.

Andrew Harrer | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Amazon’s cloud services business recently hired one of President Donald Trump’s campaign bundlers, Jeff Miller, to lobby on its behalf, according to a recently posted disclosure form.

Amazon Web Services hired Miller, who is CEO of Miller Strategies, to lobby on “issues related to cyber security and technology,” according to a lobbying registration form. The filing was posted to the Senate lobbying disclosure database on Wednesday. The document said Miller was registered to lobby for Amazon effectively on June 5.

Miller, as CNBC reported, is one of more than 400 bundlers helping the Trump campaign raise funds for its reelection effort. Throughout the second quarter, he helped raise just more than $110,000 for Trump Victory, a joint fundraising committee that brings in campaign cash for the campaign and the Republican National Committee.

Trump on Thursday told a group of reporters that he was “very seriously” considering getting involved in a battle that’s involved Amazon, Oracle, Microsoft and IBM over a lucrative $10 billion Pentagon defense contract known as Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure, or JEDI. Trump said he was “getting tremendous complaints about the contract with the Pentagon and with Amazon” and added he’s hearing “complaining from different companies like Microsoft and Oracle and IBM.”

The contract has not been awarded yet. Amazon Web Services and Microsoft are the final contenders while Oracle and IBM were ruled out in April. House Republican lawmakers sent a letter to Trump on Thursday, urging him not to delay the contract.

Trump has repeatedly criticized Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos and has, at times, focused his ire on the newspaper Bezos owns, The Washington Post. The CEO of Amazon Web Services is Andy Jassy.

The winner of the contract would have the ability to work with the Department of Defense to create a cloud computing framework for a variety of military agencies.

When reached, Miller said he would call CNBC back. He didn’t return calls, despite several attempts to connect with him. Representatives from Amazon and AWS did not return repeated requests for comment.

The filing did not show how much Amazon Web Services is paying Miller. Many of his other clients, which include General Electric, Pfizer, DowDuPont and FirstEnergy, have each paid his firm up to $110,000 in 2019, according to the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics. The firm so far this year has had $1.68 million in revenue. Miller’s office includes two alumni of the Trump administration. Ashley Gunn, a former special assistant to the president, along with Jonathan Hiler, a prior Director of Legislative Affairs for Vice President Mike Pence, both work there.

Miller was also vice finance chair of the president’s inaugural committee. Along with his ties to House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., he was a political aide in 2013 to then Texas Republican Gov. Rick Perry who later became Trump’s secretary of Energy.

For Amazon this would mark at least the second pickup of a lobbyist with ties to Trump.

Brian Ballard, a lead fundraiser in Florida for Trump during the 2016 presidential election, continues to be on retainer as one of Amazon’s outside lobbyists. In 2019, Ballard’s lobbying shop has been paid $70,000 by Amazon and a year earlier his company brought in $280,000 from the tech giant.

Amazon shares were down approximately four points in afternoon trading.

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