Tech and 2020 Contenders
The Democratic senators running for president share a common feature: They’ve all received congressional campaign donations from the tech or telecom industries.
- Sen Cory Booker (D-NJ) has drawn substantial campaign contributions from employees of media, tech and telecom firms since 2013. That includes $76,744 from the Walt Disney Co., $60,350 from Facebook and $57,580 from Microsoft. The companies’ PACs have also chipped in to Booker’s campaigns, including $19,000 from Verizon, $15,000 from Comcast, $12,500 from Google, $7,500 apiece from Microsoft and Amazon, $4,500 from Facebook, $4,000 from AT&T, and $1,000 apiece from WarnerMedia (the former Time Warner, now part of AT&T) and Disney. And his industry ties run deeper than the campaign checkbook. In 2010, while serving as mayor of Newark, Booker teamed up with Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and thenGov. Chris Christie (R-NJ) to announce the tech mogul would donate $100 million to reform Newark’s public schools. The money was used to launch the Foundation for Newark's Future, a group devoted to improving the city’s public education system. But the effort largely underwhelmed according to the city’s current mayor Ras Baraka and other critics.
- Sen Kamala Harris (D-CA) has a long history of run-ins with the tech industry from her time as the state’s attorney general. She also has raised substantial sums from employees of several tech and media companies since 2015, including $126,975 from Time Warner (now WarnerMedia), $90,958 from 21st Century Fox, $88,237 from Google parent company Alphabet, $54,660 from Apple and $48,735 from Comcast. As for corporate PACs, Harris has garnered $10,000 from Alphabet and $1,000 from WarnerMedia.
- Sens Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) have drawn in relatively smaller sums from the tech and telecom industries. In terms of individual donations from employees, no industry firms have cracked Gillibrand’s list of top 20 contributors, and only one made that list for the 2018 cycle: AT&T, whose employees chipped in $36,235. Tech and telecom staffers also failed to make Warren’s all-time top 20, but they made the list during the 2018 campaign, when she drew $37,709 from Alphabet employees, $33,368 from AT&T employees and $30,586 from Comcast employees.
President Donald Trump's 2020 presidential campaign is shaping up as a major political headache for tech companies still reeling from blowback over the support they offered Donald Trump's campaign and the Republican Party in the last election. Two and a half years ago, companies including Google and Facebook gave the then-Republican nominee the same technical assistance they lend to other candidates, despite widespread distaste among their largely liberal employees for his comments about women, minorities, and immigrants. But now the companies are facing rising pressure from liberal activists to withhold any technical or financial aid for the president and the GOP. The activists, including groups that hold sway in Silicon Valley, say Trump's track record in the White House makes business as usual out of the question.
Tech and 2020 Contenders