These days — in the age of the super PAC and Citizens United — a campaign donor with a million dollars to spend isn’t cool.
You know what’s cool? A donor with a billion dollars.
By any standard, Sean Parker is a very cool donor indeed. And this year, the 34-year-old co-founder of Napster is poised to bring his considerable fortune into the political world with fresh intensity, retaining advisers to bring new focus and sophistication to his political enterprises and preparing to make a significant investment in the 2014 election cycle.
Known primarily as a bad-boy file-sharing guru and defined in the public mind by Justin Timberlake’s frenetic 2010 portrayal in “The Social Network” (“A million dollars isn’t cool,” Timberlake’s character memorably said) Parker has dabbled in the political world for half a decade now.
If the exact direction of Parker’s new push into politics is still taking shape, he is already working actively to build new and stronger political relationships. He has met privately in recent months with some starkly different politicians, huddling with both Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, the libertarian-leaning GOP presidential hopeful, and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, the populist progressive Democrat. He is eyeing a range of 2014 elections to get involved in and has spoken with former Florida Gov. Charlie Crist about his party-switching comeback bid.
This week, Parker will co-host a San Francisco fundraiser for state Attorney General Kamala Harris, along with Silicon Valley super-elites such as Yahoo’s Marissa Mayer, Laurene Powell Jobs and uber-investors Ron Conway, Marc Benioff and John Doerr.
On the operational side, Parker has hired Chris Garland, who recently stepped down as chief of staff to California Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, to work in a political director role. The former Facebook president is conferring with national strategists about his political engagement. Among his advisers is Addisu Demissie, who managed New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker’s 2013 campaign and now heads up the West Coast office of the Messina Group, the consulting firm founded by President Barack Obama’s 2012 campaign manager.
SOURCE: ALEXANDER BURNS and ALEX BYERS