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Who is Nicole Shanahan, the philanthropist picked by Robert F. Kennedy Jr. as his running mate?

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — Robert F. Kennedy Jr. has picked Nicole Shanahan, a California lawyer and philanthropist who’s never held elected office, to be his running mate in his independent bid for president, he announced on Tuesday.

An unconventional choice, Shanahan, who is 38, brings youth and considerable wealth to Kennedy’s long-shot campaign but is little known outside Silicon Valley.

Shanahan leads Bia-Echo Foundation, an organization she founded to direct money toward issues including women’s reproductive science, criminal justice reform and environmental causes. She also is a Stanford University fellow and was the founder and chief executive of ClearAccessIP, a patent management firm that was sold in 2020.

Shanahan was married to Google co-founder Sergey Brin from 2018 to 2023, and they have a young daughter. She was raised in the San Francisco Bay Area, where Kennedy made his announcement.

Before the announcement, Kennedy’s campaign manager and daughter-in-law, Amaryllis Fox Kennedy, praised Shanahan’s work on behalf of “honest governance, racial equity, regenerative agriculture and children’s and maternal health.” She said the work “reflects many of our country’s most urgent needs.”

In an interview Monday with “The State of California” on KCBS radio, Kennedy said his VP search placed a priority on ”somebody who could represent young people,” commending Shanahan for spending “a lot of her lifetime in regenerative agriculture and restoring soils, and reducing the toxicity from processed foods.”

Kennedy had previously signaled interest in picking a celebrity or a household name such as NFL quarterback Aaron Rogers, “Dirty Jobs” star Mike Rowe or former Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura, who was a wrestler and actor.

According to campaign finance records, Shanahan has long donated to Democratic candidates, including giving the maximum amount allowed to Kennedy when he was still pursuing that party’s nomination before switching to an independent bid in October.

It was unclear if Shanahan would use her own money on the campaign, but she has already opened her wallet to back Kennedy.

She was a driving force and the primary donor behind a Super Bowl ad produced by a pro-Kennedy super PAC, American Values 2024, for which she contributed $4 million. In response to criticism following the ad’s release, the super PAC said its “idea, funding, and execution came primarily” from Shanahan.

The super PAC can accept unlimited funds but is legally barred from coordinating with Kennedy’s team.

But as a candidate for vice president, Shanahan can give unlimited sums to the campaign directly. That’s potentially a huge boost for Kennedy’s expensive push to get on the ballot in all 50 states, an endeavor he has said will cost $15 million and require collecting more than 1 million signatures.


Meg Kinnard can be reached at http://twitter.com/MegKinnardAP.


Jonathan J. Cooper contributed from Oakland.

Meg Kinnard, The Associated Press

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