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Two former senators begin lobbying for Amazon

By Laurie Bennett

January 31, 2013 at 1:57pm

Amazon brought in the big guns during the last quarter to lobby a bill that would permit taxes on online purchases.

According to documents filed this week, the company hired Patton Boggs to lobby the Marketplace Fairness Act, legislation that would enable states to tax online and catalog transactions.

Amazon surprised some by supporting the Senate bill, which ultimately died in committee. Other online enterprises such as eBay and Overstock.com opposed the measure.

Under existing law, online retailers must pay sales taxes in states where they have a physical presence. As Amazon expands its distribution network with warehouses in additional states, its tax burden increases. The Marketplace Fairness Act was seen as a way to increase taxes on competitors who do have the same state-level activities.

Amazon had earlier contracted with five outside lobby shops. With the addition of Patton Boggs, it brought in two former senators - Democrat John Breaux and Republican Trent Lott.

Its lobby expenditures have climbed steadily over the last four years, hitting an all-time high of $2.5 million in 2012, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

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