Silicon Valley is trying to catch up with Wall Street in staking a much bigger claim to influencing Washington D.C. Tech’s lobbying effort, which has grown by more than $100 million since 1998 and almost 2,000 percent in the last 25 years. Tech donated a record $64.1 million in 2012 Presidential cycle, up by $17.8 million in 2008. According to OpenSecrets.org, “From Capitol Hill to the White House, tech money will be everywhere as 2016 looks like it will be Silicon Valley’s biggest year yet.”
The bipartisan Center for Responsive Politics has been tracking and outing the unhealthy influence that political donations, PAC money and lobbing dollars can have on American elections and government bureaucrats for the past two decades. There motto is, “Just as water flows downhill, money in politics flows to where the power is.”
The Silicon Valley path to re-election “took on a special role in 2012” for the President as a coveted source of new cash after the financial industry tended to abandoned Obama for Mitt Romney. “Tech stepped up to help fill the void — expanding an already significant presence in Obama’s fundraising portfolio from 2008,” according to the latest posting on OpenSecrets.org.
Based on tech’s past behavior, OpenSecrets expect “Left Coast” superstars and worker bees to “fork over most of their contributions to help the Democratic nominee.
But Patrick Griffin of American University’s Center for Congressional and Presidential Studies and President of the lobbying firm of Peck, Madigan, Jones that represents Facebook and Microsoft suggests, “You can’t assume anything.” He believes that Silicon Valley money and time are “going to go with the guy or gal who they view is inclined to be supportive of the policies and programs that are important to them… whether they’re a Democrat or Republican.”
The 2016 GOP Presidential candidate who has shown an understanding of the cash potential from Silicon Valley is Senator Rand Paul. He opened a Valley office last year and told the San Francisco Chronicle he planned to visit the region “fairly often.”
Rand Paul has hinted at potential future support from a “friend” of his, Paypal cofounder and billionaire libertarian Peter Thiel. Thiel in the last Presidential cycle was the 11th biggest individual donor in America. Thiel also gave $4.7 million to three libertarian PACs, including Club for Growth, Endorse Liberty and the Revolution PAC.
The Rand Paul campaign and leadership PACs took in $66,889 in 2014 from the tech industry. With no immediate re-election to worries for 2016, Rand Paul raised more from the industry last year than the $56,289 he raised in his first four years in office.
Rand Paul’s Republican father, Ron Paul, was the third largest recipient of Silicon Valley Presidential campaign support with $660,445 in 2012. But that was dwarfed by donations of $7.9 million to Democrat Barack Obama and $3.6 million to Republican Mitt Romney.
The other potential 2016 candidate that has “shown Silicon Valley fundraising prowess” is Democrat Hillary Clinton. She raised $2.3 million from tech money in her failed 2008 primary contest with Obama. Although she out-raised Republican Senator John McCain in Silicon Valley, she was crushed by Obama’s $9.8 million surge of tech cash.
In business and politics it is always seems best to “follow the money.” Lobbying expenditures by computer/Internet companies hit $139.5 million in 2014 in an effort to craft the “Best “Net Neutrality” Silicon Valley Money Can Buy.” With the 2016 Presidential cycle heating up, Silicon Valley may be talking about “People Power”, but Silicon Valley cash will be mostly go for “Corporate Power.”