Googling for Campaign Contributions

Five presidential candidates have already made stops at Google headquarters to collect contributions, as tech giving picks up.

August 24 2007: 4:03 PM EDT

NEW YORK ( — Employees of tech firms have stepped up their political donations so far this year, making Google’s headquarters in Silicon Valley one of the hottest stops for candidates running for president, according to a published report.

The New York Times reports that five of the presidential candidates have already stopped by the Googleplex, as the headquarters is known, to meet employees, and collect donations. They include Democrats Hillary Rodham Clinton, Barack Obama and Bill Richardson, and Republicans John McCain and Ron Paul.

The paper reports that Paul, who in the past has run as a Libertarian for president, drew an overflow crowd of 250 people, and 100 others watched on monitors from another room. The paper reports that Paul got $3,350 from Google employees, while Clinton got 10 times that amount from Google employees, and Obama doubled her total from that group.

The combination of an early primary season and a large field of candidates have helped to drive presidential candidates’ fund-raising efforts across all industries into high gear this year. The computer and Internet sector is one that has been a key target for those collecting donations.

Donations from employees in the sector total $2.3 million to all candidates in the primary through the first half of this year, according to, a site run by the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Government that tracks all donations of $200 or more reported by the candidates.

The Times said that total is nearly double the $1.2 million raised by all the candidates during the first six months of the years before each of the last two presidential elections.

Obama has a narrow lead in those donations over Clinton, receiving $554,648 compared to $550,770, according to the watchdog’s Web site. Mitt Romney, a former venture capitalist, is next with donations of $434,577 from the sector.

Google (Charts, Fortune 500) CEO Eric Schmidt, a frequent Democratic party contributor who gave the then-maximum $2,000 donation to two different Democratic presidential candidates – John Kerry and Richard Gephardt – in early 2003, has not made any contributions to presidential candidates so far this year, according to

The Times reports that Schmidt is a close associate of former Vice President Al Gore and he may be among those waiting to see if Gore is a late entry into the field of candidates.

Google billionaire co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin also have not made any contributions. Neither is listed as having made any political contributions in the past other than $5,000 donations to the Google Political Action Committee.

Some other high profile tech executives have been active making contributions, though.

John Thompson, CEO of Symantec (Charts), who gave the then-maximum $2,000 to both Kerry and Joe Lieberman, also a Democratic candidate for president, in early 2003. He has given two maximum $2,300 donations to Obama so far this year, with one contribution that can be used in the primary campaign and one that can only be used should he run in the general election.

The Times said he also hosted a fund raiser for Obama at his home. But just as he gave to two opposing candidates last time, he also has hedged his bet with at $2,300 contribution to Clinton as well, according to the site.

Oracle (Charts, Fortune 500) President Charles Phillips has made the two $2,300 contributions allowed to Clinton this time, and the Times reports that he’s hosted a fund raiser for her. He’s a long-time supporter of her, contributing to her Senate campaign warchest in the past. His contributions are a step up from 2004, when he gave only $1,000 to candidate Howard Dean.

Among tech executives making contributions to Republicans are eBay (Charts, Fortune 500) CEO Meg Whitman, who gave $2,100 to Romney. She formerly worked at Bain Capital, Romney’s former firm.

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