Dem Megadonor Tries To Bully NPR Reporter Who Exposed His Shady Shell Companies

Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff tracked down journalist, relayed 'personal details' about her family

Bill Clinton, Marc Benioff (Craig Barritt/Getty Images for TIME 100 Health Summit)
February 29, 2024

Salesforce CEO and Democratic megadonor Marc Benioff dug up "personal details" about the family of a journalist who exposed his use of anonymous shell companies to buy swaths of land in rural Hawaii, according to a report.

Benioff, the billionaire founder of Salesforce and owner of Time magazine, has used at least six "anonymous" LLCs to purchase nearly 40 parcels of land in the small Hawaiian town of Waimea, according to a Wednesday NPR report. When reporter Dara Kerr questioned Benioff about those purchases, he became agitated, going as far as to raise "personal details" about Kerr's family.

"A couple of days before the interview, Benioff texted the same NPR colleague again, asking for intel on my story. Then he called me and demanded to know the title of this piece," Kerr wrote in the report.

"During that call, he also mentioned he knew the exact area where I was staying," she continued. "Unnerved, I asked how he knew, and he said, 'It's my job. You have a job and I have a job.' During the interview, he brings up more personal details about me and my family."

The exchange reflects a pattern of behavior from Benioff, who has spoken at panels alongside former House speaker Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.) and contributed nearly $1.3 million to Democratic candidates and causes since 2011, according to federal campaign finance disclosures.

In 2006, then-Wall Street Journal reporter Pui-Wing Tam also investigated Benioff's Hawaiian real estate. Benioff reportedly had the reporter detained when she visited one of his oceanfront properties and later boasted that he hired a private investigator to track her.

Benioff, who did not return a request for comment, also called NPR CEO John Lansing to complain about the outlet's investigation into his Hawaiian land grabs, according to Kerr's report. The journalist found that Benioff has purchased nearly 40 parcels of land in Hawaii using at least six LLCs and one nonprofit, none of which are registered under his name.

Those purchases have prompted concerns from local residents that Benioff will price them out of their homes. In one case, Benioff purchased the land that housed a local bakery at more than 50 percent above market value, causing it to close, according to NPR.

In total, Benioff's Hawaii properties total more than 600 acres of land. He has purchased 29 parcels—spanning more than 580 acres—in Waimea, as well as 9 other parcels at various beach resorts.

While Benioff has at times contributed to Republicans, his political spending since 2011 has overwhelmingly benefited Democrats. Between 2011 and 2015, for example, he sent nearly $150,000 to the Democratic National Committee. Benioff also contributed more than $44,000 to Pelosi's PAC in 2018.