Center for Political Awareness

Inside Tech Billionaires’ Push to Reshape San Francisco Politics: ‘A Hostile Takeover’

The Guardian and Mission Local unravel ‘grey money’ network flooding progressive city with conservative cash. (Click link for article.)

Photo: From left, cryptocurrency booster Chris Larsen, billionaire investor Michael Moritz and Y Combinator chief executive Garry Tan. Composite: Bloomberg via Getty Images


In a way, it’s a story as old as time: ultra-wealthy figures pouring a flood of money into city politics in an effort to shape the way it is run.

Still, the political-influence machine that tech billionaires and venture capitalists have recently built in San Francisco stands out for its size and ambition. A new analysis of campaign filings, non-profit records and political contributions by the Guardian and Mission Local reveals the extent of this network, which is using its financial and organizational muscle to push the famously progressive city into adopting policies that are tougher on crime and homelessness, and more favorable to business and housing construction.

In the past six years, prominent tech and venture capital leaders – including the hedge fund manager William Oberndorf, the billionaire investor Michael Moritz, the cryptocurrency booster Chris Larsen, the PayPal co-founder David Sacks, the Y Combinator CEO, Garry Tan, and the Pantheon CEO, Zachary Rosen – have invested at least $5.7m into reshaping San Francisco’s policies, according to the analysis of public data. Because not all of their donations are publicly disclosed, the sum of their contributions may be far higher.

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