Editor's Note: This is one of many stories about politics that our sister magazine, San Francisco, is publishing over the next month, all part of the October 2016 Democracy Issue. To peruse the rest of the issue's contents, and to read stories as they become available online, click here.
When Democrats need campaign cash, they come to California. As of July 31, Clinton’s campaign had raised 21 percent of its individual contributions from the Golden State. Her mega-donors include a couple of tech titans, but full-time philanthropists are our region’s biggest liberal givers. Here’s who they are and what they support.
Totals include contributions to the two largest pro-Hillary super PACs, as well as to her Joint Fundraising Committee, for the current election cycle through June 2016.
A former clinical researcher in the pharmaceutical industry, Woods now devotes herself full-time to philanthropy. She’s president of the Laurel Foundation, which focuses on children’s health and education, and the Bay Area Lyme Foundation, which she cofounded after being diagnosed with the disease. Woods has given millions to Democrats, with an emphasis on female-centered super PACs that help advance women’s choices.
With his late wife, Marion, Sandler ran the savings and loan Golden West Financial, which they sold to Wachovia in 2006 for $25.5 billion. He’s now a full-time philanthropist, backing groups like the ACLU and Human Rights Watch through the Sandler Foundation as well as billionaire Tom Steyer’s climate change super PAC. The foundation helped launch the investigative news outlet ProPublica and the Center for American Progress, a progressive think tank. He’s pledged to give most of his wealth away as part of the Giving Pledge.
After making his fortune as cofounder of Innovative Interfaces, a software company that develops systems for libraries, Silberstein launched the Stephen M. Silberstein Foundation in the late 1990s. He’s given widely to progressive causes, environmental groups, and arts organizations and belongs to the Democracy Alliance, which Mother Jones dubbed “the liberal answer to the Koch brothers.” He’s also a member of the Patriotic Millionaires, a coalition of wealthy people who lobby for their own taxes to be raised.
Wayne Jordan and Mary Quinn Delaney
Jordan helms the Oakland-based firm Jordan Real Estate Investments, which has backed such projects as the Hive in downtown Oakland. He’s also a member of the Democracy Alliance and a loyal Democratic donor who’s hosted fundraisers for both Obama and Clinton at his Piedmont home with his wife, former ACLU board member Delaney. Delaney currently chairs the couple’s Akonadi Foundation, whose mission is to “end structural racism.”
Mark Heising and Liz Simons
Heising is managing director of Medley Partners, the investment firm he founded. He and his wife, Simons, a former teacher, have donated to a handful of Republicans over the last decade, but they mostly give to Democrats. They’ve taken the Giving Pledge, and Simons chairs the Heising-Simons Foundation, which funds scientific education and research. Heising sits on boards for both the Environmental Defense Fund and the Bipartisan Policy Center. Simons also serves on the leadership council of a Clinton Foundation education nonprofit.
John and Marcia Goldman
Retired San Francisco Symphony president John Goldman and his wife, Marcia, are known in the city for the John and Marcia Goldman Foundation, which supports the arts and other causes, and the Goldman Environmental Prize. More recently they picked up the $105,000 tab for San Francisco’s heartwarming Batkid event. They’ve made a splash in Democratic fundraising circles as well, donating millions over the past two-plus decades to Democrats vying for Congress and the White House.
Susie Tompkins Buell
Clinton calls the Esprit clothing line cofounder “my free-spirited friend.” They met after Buell dropped in on a 1991 campaign dinner for then–presidential hopeful Bill on a whim. Since then, Buell’s political influence has been on the rise. She regularly hosts Democratic fundraisers at her Pacific Heights home and has given millions of her own money—though not blindly. In 2012, she withheld a fundraising check over disappointment with the president’s climate change record. Buell serves on the advisory board of the Go Green Foundation, which encourages millennials to adopt sustainable lifestyles.
Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers chair Doerr has gained a reputation as one of the venture capital world’s most generous and politically engaged donors. In addition to sitting on the boards of Google and Zynga, he’s an adviser to the Obama presidential library and a member of the President’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness. Another Giving Pledge participant, Doerr supports environmental and antipoverty causes and is the cofounder of two tech lobbying groups advocating for immigration reform, cybersecurity, and STEM education.
Originally published in the October issue of San Francisco