Billionaire American businessman Jeff Bezos walks with Blue Origin’s President and CEO Bob Smith after Bezos flew on the company’s inaugural flight to the edge of space, in the nearby town of Van Horn, Texas, U.S. July 20, 2021.
Joe Skipper | Reuters
Amazon founder Jeff Bezos’ space tourism company has hired a lobbyist with ties to former President Barack Obama’s administration after a Democratic congressman proposed a tax that could make traveling to space a little more expensive.
Bezos’ Blue Origin recently hired Mac Campbell from Capitol Counsel to lobby on behalf of the company to “monitor and evaluate proposed changes to the Internal Revenue Code being considered by Congress as part of the budget reconciliation process,” according to a lobbying registration form. Campbell registered to lobby for the company in October.
Campbell was an assistant U.S. trade representative for congressional affairs while working in Obama’s executive office before moving on to the powerful Senate Finance Committee. His other clients include Lockheed Martin, Las Vegas Sands and Pacific Mutual, according to data from the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics.
Blue Origin has already spent over $1.3 million on lobbying this year alone. In 2020, the space company invested nearly $2 million trying to influence lawmakers. Bezos, who has a net worth of over $200 billion according to Forbes, stepped down as Amazon’s CEO earlier this year to focus on other ventures like Blue Origin and the Washington Post, which he owns.
Blue Origin and Campbell did not return CNBC’s requests for comment before publication.
Rep. Earl Blumenauer, D-Ore., proposed a tax on space exploration companies on July 20, the day Bezos traveled into space with three other passengers on Blue Origin’s first crewed flight.
The Securing Protections Against Carbon Emissions (SPACE) Tax Act “would create new excise taxes on commercial space flights carrying human passengers for purposes other than scientific research,” according to a press release. Blumenauer is a member of the House Ways and Means Committee.
“Space exploration isn’t a tax-free holiday for the wealthy. Just as normal Americans pay taxes when they buy airline tickets, billionaires who fly into space to produce nothing of scientific value should do the same, and then some,” Blumenauer said in a statement at the time. “I’m not opposed to this type of space innovation. However, things that are done purely for tourism or entertainment, and that don’t have a scientific purpose, should in turn support the public good.”
President Joe Biden and Democrats are proposing a number of other tax provisions as part of their nearly $1.8 trillion social spending proposal that has yet to be passed by Congress. One of the ideas is to enact a 15% minimum corporate tax on declared income of large corporations.