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Pre-Facebook IPO, Here's Where Shareholders Put their Political Cash

BY Sarah Lai Stirland | Friday, February 3 2012

Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg Says Its Mission Is To "Make The World More Open And Connected."

Silicon Valley has always been an apolitical kind of place. People are usually more interested in where your last round of funding came from rather than your political allegiances.

But the lack of interest is asymmetrical. Politicians are very interested in Silicon Valley – as a source of campaign cash. Members of Congress regularly schedule visits to Silicon Valley, as does the President.

Mindful of this, Facebook has set up a political action committee, which the Center for Responsive Politics reports hauled in $170,000 in the last quarter of 2011.

Much of that money came from its own employees. The biggest boldface names contributing were Facebook Founder Mark Zuckerberg, who chipped in $5,000, as did its Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg. Also contributing the max amount of $5,000 were Joel Kaplan, Facebook's policy chief in Washington, D.C. and President George W. Bush's former White House deputy chief of staff, and Board Member Erskine Bowles. Bowles, who was White House chief of staff under President Clinton, last year also chaired President Obama's bipartisan National Commission on Fiscal Reform.

OpenSecrets also notes that Facebook spent a phenomenal $1.35 million on lobbying in the United States in 2011.

The FB PAC has yet to fund any individual political candidates or organizations, but OpenSecrets' records show that many wealthy and soon-to-be-wealthier names associated with Facebook have. Below are some of those who have contributed to candidate campaigns in this 2012 election cycle:

  • Marc Andreessen, investor, board member. Andreessen, who co-created the web browser and co-founded Netscape, is a partner at Andreessen Horowitz.

    $50,000 to Restore Our Future, a PAC supporting former Governor of Massachusetts and Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney.

    $2,500 to Romney

    $30,800 to the National Republican Senatorial Committee

    $7,500 to Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah)

  • Ron Conway, angel investor, SV Angel.

    $30,800 to the Democratic National Committee

    $7,500 to the National Republican Senatorial Committee

    $5,000 to Obama

  • Reid Hoffman, angel investor. Hoffman is co-founder of LinkedIn, and a partner at Greylock, a venture capital and private equity firm.

    $30,800 to the Democratic National Committee

    $5,000 to Obama

  • Chris Hughes, co-founder Facebook, and former online organizer for Obama's 2008 campaign. He now runs Jumo, a social networking platform that's merged with GOOD magazine.

    $15,800 to the Democratic National Committee

    $10,000 to Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee

    $5,000 to Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.)

    $5,000 to Obama

  • Sean Parker, former Facebook president. Most well-known for being Co-Founder of the music sharing service Napster, he's now a partner at Founders Fund, a venture capital firm founded by Paypal founder Peter Thiel.

    $30,800 to the Democratic National Committee

    $5,000 to Obama

  • Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook's Chief Operating Officer

    $30,800 to the Democratic National Committee

    $5,000 to Gilllibrand

    $2,500 to Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.)

    $2,500 to Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.)

    $5,000 to Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.)

    $5,000 to Obama

  • Peter Thiel, Angel investor. Thiel co-founded Paypal, Palantir Technologies, produced Thank You for Smoking, established the Founders Fund and is president of the hedge fund Clarium Capital Management.

    $900,000 to Endorse Liberty, a PAC supporting Republican Texas Congressman Ron Paul's presidential bid.

    $10,000 to the Republican Party of Cuyahoga County

    $5,000 to Ohio Treasurer Josh Mandel, who's running as a Republican for the U.S. Senate seat of Democrat Sherrod Brown.

    $7,400 to former Texas Solicitor General Ted Cruz, a Republican running to succeed Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas).

    $5,000 to Republican businessman Randy Altschuler, who's running to unseat Democratic incumbent Tim Bishop from his House seat for New York's 1st Congressional District (Eastern Long Island).

    $4,800 to Orrin Hatch.