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Sunday, May 26, 2024

Nicole Shanahan Contributes Additional $8 Million to RFK Jr.’s Presidential Campaign

On Wednesday night, Silicon Valley investor Nicole Shanahan announced a significant financial boost to the independent presidential campaign of Robert F. Kennedy Jr., her running mate. Speaking at a comedy fundraiser in Nashville, Shanahan revealed she had contributed an additional $8 million to their campaign, bringing her total personal donation to $10 million. This excludes the $4 million she previously gave to a super PAC supporting Kennedy, which funded a Super Bowl advertisement earlier this year.

Shanahan, a lawyer who was formerly married to Google co-founder Sergey Brin, had initially donated $2 million to the campaign shortly after Kennedy named her his running mate in March. During the event at the historic Ryman Auditorium, Shanahan humorously addressed the media, anticipating they might suggest Kennedy selected her for her financial resources.

The fundraiser featured performances by comedians such as Russell Brand, Rob Schneider, and Jim Breuer, a former “Saturday Night Live” cast member. While the comedians lauded Kennedy, they also voiced criticisms against Covid-19 vaccinations, Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, mainstream media, and President Biden.

Shanahan’s substantial wealth has been a crucial asset for Kennedy’s campaign, particularly as it undertakes the costly process of securing ballot access in all 50 states. This endeavor is both challenging and expensive, especially given that the Democratic Party and its allies have pledged to contest the campaign’s efforts legally. Campaign finance laws restrict individuals from donating more than $6,600 to a campaign, but candidates can contribute unlimited amounts of their own money.

Shanahan’s announcement coincided with the news that President Biden and former President Donald Trump had agreed to two debates, one on June 27 on CNN and another on September 10 on ABC News. By doing so, they bypassed the traditional Commission on Presidential Debates, which has hosted presidential debates for decades. Both Biden and Trump sought to exclude Kennedy from these debates. Biden’s campaign chair, Jennifer O’Malley Dillon, explicitly stated in a letter to the commission that Biden’s terms for the debates were for two one-on-one sessions with Trump, terms which Trump accepted.

Despite these challenges, Kennedy might still qualify for the CNN debate. Under CNN’s polling rules, Kennedy needs to show at least 15% support in four approved national polls between March 13 and June 20. He has already surpassed this threshold in at least two polls, one from CNN and another from Quinnipiac University. Kennedy has another five weeks to secure more qualifying polls.

Additionally, Kennedy must get on the ballot in enough states to potentially win the 270 Electoral College votes needed to be elected president. Currently, he is on the ballot in five states, which collectively hold 84 electoral votes. His campaign has five more weeks to achieve ballot access in additional states before the deadline to qualify for the debate.

The Kennedy campaign’s efforts are emblematic of the broader challenges faced by independent and third-party candidates in the U.S. political system. Access to debates and ballot inclusion are significant hurdles, often compounded by the legal and financial constraints imposed by the major political parties.

Shanahan’s financial support is critical in navigating these obstacles, providing a lifeline as the campaign continues to seek broader recognition and support. Her involvement underscores the importance of significant financial backing in sustaining a viable independent presidential campaign, particularly one that aims to challenge the established political order and present an alternative voice to the electorate.

Jonathan James
Jonathan James
I serve as a Senior Executive Journalist of The National Era
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