Home World News Who is Nicole Shanahan, the philanthropist picked by Robert F. Kennedy Jr. as running mate

Who is Nicole Shanahan, the philanthropist picked by Robert F. Kennedy Jr. as running mate

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Who is Nicole Shanahan, the philanthropist picked by Robert F. Kennedy Jr. as running mate

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Independent presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. and Nicole Shanahan react on stage as she becomes the vice presidential candidate of Kennedy, in Oakland, California.
| Photo Credit: Reuters

Robert F.Kennedy Jr. has picked Nicole Shanahan, a California lawyer and philanthropist who’s never held elected office, to be his running mate in his independent bid for president, he announced on Tuesday.

An unconventional choice, Shanahan, who is 38, brings youth and considerable wealth to Kennedy’s long-shot campaign but is little known outside Silicon Valley.

Shanahan leads Bia-Echo Foundation, an organisation she founded to direct money toward issues, including women’s reproductive science, criminal justice reform and environmental causes. She also is a Stanford University fellow and was the founder and chief executive of ClearAccessIP, a patent management firm that was sold in 2020.

Shanahan was married to Google co-founder Sergey Brin from 2018 to 2023, and they have a young daughter. She was raised in the San Francisco Bay Area, where Kennedy made his announcement.

Before the announcement, Kennedy’s campaign manager and daughter-in-law, Amaryllis Fox Kennedy, praised Shanahan’s work on behalf of “honest governance, racial equity, regenerative agriculture and children’s and maternal health”. She said the work “reflects many of our country’s most urgent needs”.

Kennedy, who said in an interview Monday with “The State of California” on KCBS radio that his VP search placed a priority on “somebody who could represent young people”, said Tuesday that Shanahan — who he said, like him, has “left the Democratic Party” — also shares his concerns about government overreach and his distrust in major political parties’ abilities to make lasting change.

“She’ll tell you that she now understands at the defence agencies work for the military industrial complex, that health agencies work for big pharma and the USDA works for big ag and the processed food cartels,” Kennedy said at his Oakland rally. “The EPA is in cahoots with the polluters, that the scientists can be mercenaries, that government officials sometimes act as sensors, and that the Fed works for Wall Street and allows millionaire bankers to prey upon on Main Street and the American worker.” Kennedy had previously signalled interest in picking a celebrity or a household name such as NFL quarterback Aaron Rogers, “Dirty Jobs” star Mike Rowe or former Minnesota Governor Jesse Ventura, who was a wrestler and actor.

According to campaign finance records, Shanahan has long donated to Democratic candidates, including giving the maximum amount allowed to Kennedy when he was still pursuing that party’s nomination before switching to an independent bid in October.

It was unclear if Shanahan would use her own money on the campaign, but she has already opened her wallet to back Kennedy.

She was a driving force and the primary donor behind a Super Bowl ad produced by a pro-Kennedy super PAC, American Values 2024, for which she contributed USD 4 million. In response to criticism following the ad’s release, the super PAC said its “idea, funding, and execution came primarily” from Shanahan.

The super PAC can accept unlimited funds but is legally barred from coordinating with Kennedy’s team.

But as a candidate for vice-president, Shanahan can give unlimited sums to the campaign directly. That’s potentially a huge boost for Kennedy’s expensive push to get on the ballot in all 50 states, an endeavour he has said will cost USD 15 million and require collecting more than a million signatures.

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