Amazon is offering itself up as an ally to President-elect Biden in his effort to distribute the coronavirus vaccines, months after lobbying the Trump administration to prioritize its workers.
In a letter to the newly-sworn-in president penned by Dave Clark, a top Amazon executive, and dated Wednesday, the tech giant offered its well wishes to the new administration on their inauguration before offering themselves as an ally in their distribution effort.
“We are prepared to leverage our operations, IT, & communications capabilities and expertise to assist your administration’s vaccination efforts. Our scale allows us to make a meaningful impact immediately in the fight against COVID-19, and we stand ready to assist you in this effort,” Clark told the commander-in-chief.
Clark was responsible for another letter to the federal government in December, this one addressed to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
In that correspondence, according to the Wall Street Journal, which obtained the letter, Clark asked for help in gaining access to the vaccine for their frontline workers.
“We are proud of the role that our essential employees have played this year to help our customers stay safe and receive important products at their home. We request that [the CDC panel] continue to prioritize these essential workers who cannot work from home,” the Amazon exec wrote.
In Clark’s letter to Biden, meanwhile, the offer of help was made clearly available.
“Our scale allows us to make a meaningful impact immediately in the fight against COVID-19, and we stand ready to assist you in this effort,” Clark told Biden.
“Since the beginning of this crisis, we have worked hard to keep our workers safe. We are committed to assisting your administration’s vaccination efforts as we work together to protect our employees and continue to provide essential services during the pandemic,” he continued.
In its capacity as an e-commerce giant, Amazon has one of the most expansive distribution and shipping operations in the country.
The company was founded by Jeff Bezos, who has turned it from an online book retailer to one of the largest tech giants on the globe.
Bezos purchased The Washington Post in 2013 for $250 million in cash, acquiring it separately of Amazon.
The newspaper had a fraught relationship with former President Trump, especially in the early years of his presidency with their reporting on Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian collusion in the 2016 election.
The president’s relationship with Amazon, Bezos and The Washington Post did not improve with time.
Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos.Photo by MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images
He regularly accused the online retailer of costing the US Postal Service billions in potential revenue and calling the paper “an expensive…lobbyist for Amazon.”
Additionally, his administration’s Justice Department went after the retail giant over anti-trust concerns.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin defended the probe in a 2019 CNBC appearance, arguing that Amazon “has destroyed the retail industry across the United States.”
In a Medium post he wrote about his 2019 extortion experience, Bezos defended his ownership of the paper, writing, “My ownership of the Washington Post is a complexifier for me. It’s unavoidable that certain powerful people who experience Washington Post news coverage will wrongly conclude I am their enemy.”
“My stewardship of The Post and my support of its mission, which will remain unswerving, is something I will be most proud of when I’m 90 and reviewing my life, if I’m lucky enough to live that long, regardless of any complexities it creates for me,” he continued.
A representative for Amazon did not immediately respond to The New York Post’s request for comment on their correspondence with the Trump administration, and whether the company offered the previous White House support on vaccine distribution.
Reached by NBC News, an Amazon rep said the company had been “in touch” last month with the CDC, but would not say whether the company had made the same overtures to President Trump.
In a tweet posted Thursday afternoon, Amazon’s public policy team defended their conduct, saying, “Actually, we didn’t wait.
“We offered the Trump administration assistance on vaccines, built new tools for researchers & public health authorities, engaged Operation Warp Speed on logistics & advised on testing, & flew in PPE from China when America needed it most.”