US Silicon Valley’s mega-donors influencing 2016 presidential campaigns

September 18, 2016 11:45 am

Silicon Valley’s top political operatives contribute heavily to political campaigns of 2016 presidential and congressional candidates.

US Silicon Valley’s major corporate executives and top political operatives are reportedly flexing their muscles in the 2016 campaign with financial contributions to political candidates of both ruling parties. 
While a Facebook co-founder announced his plans this month to give heavily to Democratic candidates, the co-founder of LinkedIn offered up to $5 million in an effort to get Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump to release his tax returns, Washington-based newspaper The Hill reported Saturday.
According to the report, although most employees at tech companies often contribute to Democratic candidates, there are also those among the tech’s elite that support Republican political campaigns.
Among the mega-donors funneling Silicon Valley capital into are Facebook’s co-founder Dustin Moskovitz and his wife Cari Tuna, a philanthropist and former Wall Street Journal reporter. They announced last week that they would be giving a whopping $20 million to support Democratic candidates in this election cycle.
Half of the large contribution, the report adds, is going to two political action committees (PACs). “One of those PACs is run by the League of Conservation Voters, while the other is the brainchild of unions who are working with Tom Steyer, a billionaire who has been giving extensively to environmentalist causes.”
The couple also plans to contribute to Hillary Clinton’s campaign, among other groups. 
Moskovitz left Facebook in 2008 and founded Asana, a workplace collaboration tool. Financial journal Forbes estimates his net worth to be $10.4 billion.
The report further points to Oracle founder Larry Ellison, describing him as “one of the largest donors from Silicon Valley this cycle largely because of his support for one man: Florida Republican Senator Marco Rubio.”
Ellison gave $5 million to the Super PAC supporting Rubio’s failed presidential bid. The final donation, for a million dollars, came in February. Rubio dropped out of the race about a month later. 
Ellison, whose wealth is estimated to top $49 billion, has remained loyal to Rubio supporting his reelection campaign for the US Senate. The billionaire gave $100,000 in July to the super-PAC backing Rubio, in addition to contributions to the joint fundraising committee for veteran Republican Senator from Utah, Orrin Hatch.
The report also mentions Republican Hewlett-Packard Enterprise CEO Meg Whitman who has gone against the grain this year. 
First, she gave $100,000 in March to a super-PAC aimed at stopping Trump’s rise. Then, in August, Whitman announced that she would endorse Clinton’s candidacy, citing Trump’s rhetoric. She also gave $50,000 as part of a Clinton fundraiser, according to a report.
PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel has also drawn attention this election cycle for his support of Trump’s candidacy although he has never donated directly to his presidential campaign.
But he is still one of Silicon Valley’s top donors since he gave $2 million to the super-PAC backing former Hewlett-Packard chief executive Carly Fiorina’s failed presidential run.
He has since backed several congressional candidates. Most of Thiel’s campaign cash is going to candidates who share his conservative views.
Marc Benioff, the founder of enterprise software maker Salesforce, is yet another political donor and a devoted Hillary Clinton supporter who sometimes crosses the aisle.
He and wife Lynne are members of the Hillblazers, the people who have raised or donated at least $100,000 for the Democratic nominee.
He’s also given to several other prominent and pro-Israel Democratic politicians, including New York Senator Charles Schumer, California Senate candidate Kamala Harris and veteran Senator Dianne Feinstein. 
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