Charles Mudede

Amazon’s decision to halt construction of downtown offices over the City Council’s head tax proposal was cold, but was it criminal?

Working Washington thinks so. In an open letter to Attorney General Bob Ferguson, the labor group called on the state’s top prosecutor to charge Amazon for intimidating a public servant, a felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison and a $20,000 fine.

According to state law, "a person is guilty of intimidating a public servant if, by use of a threat, he or she attempts to influence a public servant's vote, opinion, decision, or other official action as a public servant.”

Working Washington’s case: Amazon has a financial motive to oppose the proposal with $20 million a year on the line if the city passes the head tax. Their decision to pause construction and potentially affect construction-related revenue, therefore, was interpreted by "politicians, journalists, and the public at large as a threat to inflict substantial harm on the business and financial conditions of the city.”

Brionna Aho, a spokesperson for Ferguson, said the AG was not available for comment because he is traveling. She noted that the office does not typically pursue criminal charges unless they are recommended by the governor or a county prosecutor.

A spokesperson for the King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office, would not comment on the record.