RFK Jr. is about to be named running mate. Will he choose this California tech lawyer?

(Jordan Strauss / Jordan Strauss/invision/ap)

RFK Jr. is about to be named running mate. Will he choose this California tech lawyer?

Elections 2024, Homepage News

James Rainey

March 24, 2024

She’s a Californian who remembers being raised on food stamps in a home where both parents struggled to find work.

She arranged tables at the age of 12,

before education led her to a career as a lawyer and entrepreneur,

who started

a company when she was still in her twenties.

Although she has been politically active for years, she made her biggest impact last month when she helped produce and pay for a commercial for presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. which aired during the Super Bowl.

The $4 million investment in the ad, which was derided by some Kennedy family members, marked a political coming out for Nicole Shanahan, a technology attorney, entrepreneur and wealthy philanthropist. Shanahan’s profile could be

to expand

Tuesday again, when

Kennedy will announce his choice for vice presidential running mate at an event in her hometown of Oakland.

Kennedy’s campaign has acknowledged talking to Shanahan about the No. 2 spot, while also considering others, including Aaron Rodgers, the pro football great and fellow vaccine skeptic, and Mike Rowe, the host of Dirty Jobs and other reality TV shows. TV shows.

Kennedy, 70, has portrayed Shanahan, 38, as the voice of a new generation, one that is not represented in a contest that pits the oldest president in history, 81-year-old President Biden, against former President Trump.



Kennedy has denied speculation that Shanahan’s main contribution to his campaign will be her deep pockets, which some have predicted will help fund the expensive financing.

and disheartening

effort to gather signatures to ensure the Kennedy ticket appears on 50 state ballots.

One of the top priorities of our campaign is engaging young people in politics and addressing the hardship… and hopelessness facing this generation, Kennedy said in an interview with Chris Cuomo on Monday about his choice for the vice president.



host asked the candidate if Shanahan would be a contender to be his running mate if she were broke. Kennedy’s answer: Yes, absolutely.

Shanahan did not respond to requests for comment. But

those who have worked with her in the past caution against making assumptions about Shanahan due to her youth and relative inexperience.

Her boss at a law firm in Seattle, where she worked after graduating from the University of Puget Sound, said the young paralegal had a lot of common sense. Adam Philip


said he continued to follow Shanahan’s career after she left his firm, which specializes in patent law. He watched her start a company, ClearAccessIP, which uses software to help companies manage and distribute patents and patent rights.

I think people would underestimate her at their peril, Philipp said. She was and is the kind of person who could build teams that could and could perform in a powerful way.

Shanahan’s story would have remained largely unknown to the rest of the world if it weren’t for the fact that in 2018 she married Sergey Brin, the co-founder of Google and one of the richest men in the world. The couple had a daughter and separated in 2021. Brin filed for divorce in 2022.

The split pulled

extra control

when the Wall Street Journal reported that the couple’s breakup was caused by a brief affair Shanahan had with Brin’s close friend, Elon Musk. The story said the affair broke up the friendship between the two tech titans and caused Brin to file for divorce. Shanahan and Musk both denied the affair, but the Journal stood by its reporting.

My career is based on academic and intellectual credibility, and I was internationally shamed for being an impostor, Shanahan told People magazine last summer. Being famous for a sexual act is one of the most humiliating things… it was completely debilitating. She compared the episode to being painted with such a huge scarlet letter.

The Kennedy-Shanahan alliance first became known last month for the Super Bowl ad, which drew on footage and music from a television spot used by John F. Kennedy when he ran for president in 1960. The late president was RFK Jr.’s uncle. .

Shanahan told the New York Times that she contributed $4 million to a political action committee, American Values ​​2024, to help pay for the ad. She said she shared many of Kennedy’s views on the environment, vaccines and children’s health. Like Kennedy, she expressed concerns about vaccines but said she was not an anti-vaxxer.

The scientific and medical mainstream has firmly rejected Kennedy’s claims, including that vaccines usually injure people and that they cause autism.

While some praised the Super Bowl spot as a retro attention-grabber, Kennedy family members dismissed it. Cousin Bobby Shriver told his mother:

Eunice Shriver

the candidate’s late aunt was said to have been shocked by his deadly views on health care.

The tensions between RFK Jr. and his extended clan have not diminished since. Biden posted a message on St. Patrick’s Day showing him in front of the White House with dozens of Kennedy family members, some of whom sang his praises on the social media site X.

On Friday, Kennedy Jr.’s campaign manager, his daughter-in-law Amaryllis Fox Kennedy, responded to X that “Americans are so tired of politicians dividing our country’s families to maintain their power.”

As rumors about the candidate’s vice presidential choice began circulating last week, Fox Kennedy had posted another message on the site, formerly Twitter, chiding the media for speculating about Shanahan’s chances. But the post drew praise from the tech attorney.

Her work on behalf of fair government, racial equity, regenerative agriculture, and child and maternal health reflects many of our nation’s most pressing needs, Fox Kennedy wrote. She praised Shanahan for her work in AI, including using it to root out corruption and abuse in government on behalf of the people.

The campaign manager also praised Rowe and Rodgers.

Shanahan’s path to a national political stage seems as unlikely as any. She told reporters in previous interviews that she grew up with a father who suffered from schizophrenia and bipolar disorder and a mother who was a recent immigrant from China. “It was a very difficult childhood with a lot of sadness, fear and instability,” she told People.

She described the Internet as the force that allowed her to access the larger world, applying to college and then to Santa Clara University’s law school, where she was editor of the High Technology Law Journal.

Shanahan has described himself as a lifelong Democrat and a progressive, and has supported a number of political measures that fit that description. She supported Measure J, the ballot initiative in Los Angeles that required the county government to spend 10% of unrestricted revenues, estimated at hundreds of millions of dollars, on social services, including housing, mental health care and other prison diversion programs.

She donated $85,000 to Proposition 57, the statewide criminal justice reform measure that aimed to reduce the prison population through sentence reductions, in part by providing credits for rehabilitation and education programs.

Among the many Democrats she has funded in the past: Joe Biden, who received a $5,600 donation to his 2020 campaign.

Speaking to the New York Times about the Super Bowl ad, she said she initially supported Kennedy but was rejected when he withdrew from the Democratic primary. She then went back to his motorcade and said she noticed he had “pockets of silent support everywhere.”

While still married to Brin, she founded the Bia-Echo Foundation and announced in 2019 that it planned to spend $100 million over five years on programs to help women conceive later in life , to overhaul the criminal justice system and address its consequences. of climate change.

The issue of having children became front and center for Shanahan when she struggled to have a child. She found it disturbing to see that so many people seemed unconcerned in the fertility field, while so many women in their mid-30s were struggling to conceive. She later focused on autism when Echo, her daughter with Brin, was diagnosed as being on the spectrum.

Shanahan told People that she planned to stay at the forefront of autism research and work with her daughter “through every phase of this.”

Kennedy’s campaign website invites the public to Tuesday’s VP rollout at the Henry J. Kaiser Center for the Arts overlooking Lake Merritt. It offers tickets: from $2 for those on a budget, to $500, including “commemorative items” and access to a reception after the announcement.

“This event will be a pivotal moment in the history of our country!” the website promised. “You won’t want to miss it.”


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