The Corporate Executives Elizabeth Warren Likes

Warren’s donor list packed with big Hollywood names, tech execs

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) / Getty Images
July 18, 2019

Sen. Elizabeth Warren's (D., Mass.) second quarter campaign disclosure reveals maximum donations from the same corporate elite she has pledged to combat as president.

Warren has long opposed money in politics, complaining of a system that "lets a handful of billionaires shape who gets into Congress" in a 2016 speech. Warren began her campaign by pledging to avoid "wooing wealthy donors," banning big-money fundraisers, and ‘call time’ with prospective affluent donors in the process. Her campaign, however, has cashed checks from numerous megadonors and billionaires.

Warren received $2,800 from Jeffrey Katzenberg, noted liberal donor and former DreamWorks CEO, as well as $2,800 from his wife. Katzenberg previously acted as Obama's top bundler, funneling more than $6.6 million to the former president between 2008 and 2012. His guaranteed access to the Obama administration generated controversy—the Securities and Exchange Commission investigated DreamWorks in 2012 for alleged bribes to Chinese officials under Katzenberg.

Other notable Hollywood donors include actors Amy Schumer, Scarlett Johansson, and Ryan Reynolds. Schumer and Johansson gave the election cycle maximum of $2,800, while Reynolds gave $2,000. Schumer gave an additional $2,800 for the general election. Warner Bros. producer and Lost co-creator Damon Lindelof also gave Warren $2,800, as did Anchorman and Step Brothers director Adam McKay.

Warren previously faced criticism for accepting money from wealthy executives while seeking Senate re-election in 2018, a trend that, despite her promises, has now continued into her presidential campaign. A campaign spokeswoman did not return request for comment.

Warren also took donations from executives in Silicon Valley.

Billionaire venture capitalist Chris Sacca gave Warren the $2,800 cycle maximum. Sacca previously worked for Google before making early-stage investments in tech companies such as Twitter, Uber, and Instagram. Former Facebook senior executive Chamath Palihapitiya also donated $2,800, with an additional $2,200 earmarked for the general election. Large donations also came from Spotify executive Barry McCarthy and Sonos founder John Macfarlane.

Silicon Valley's support for Warren comes as a surprise given her public disdain for wealthy donors and push to break up big tech.

While Warren has singled out the likes of Amazon, Google, and Facebook throughout her campaign for holding "too much power," a report from the Mercury News ranked her second among Democratic candidates in donations from employees at Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google, and Alphabet. Warren took $102,000 in big tech donations during the second quarter, placing the Massachusetts senator just behind Pete Buttigieg's $124,000 haul.

Warren previously touted big tech’s criticism of her campaign. When PayPal co-founder and Facebook board member Peter Thiel cited Warren as "the dangerous one" among the Democratic candidates, Warren responded "Good."