Updated Mar 26, 2024 - Politics & Policy

What to know about Nicole Shanahan, RFK Jr.'s VP pick

Up-close image of Nicole Shanahan

Nicole Shanahan attends a gala on May 21, 2022, in Los Angeles, California. Photo: Gonzalo Marroquin/Getty Images for Gold House

Presidential hopeful Robert F. Kennedy Jr. tapped Nicole Shanahan on Tuesday as his running mate for his independent presidential ticket.

Why it matters: Shanahan, a 38-year-old California-based attorney and the former wife of Google co-founder Sergey Brin, partially funded Kennedy's extraordinarily expensive Super Bowl ad in February.

Catch up quick: Mediaite first reported that Kennedy was set to pick Shanahan for the role. The outlet cited a domain registered earlier in March by Kennedy's senior advisor Link Lipsitz under www.kennedyshanahan.com.

  • Multiple names, including NFL quarterback Aaron Rodgers and former Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura, had been floated as potential VP choices.
  • Kennedy was on a tighter timeline for selecting his VP in order to appear on the ballot as an independent presidential hopeful.

Prior to the announcement, his campaign director and daughter-in-law Amaryllis Fox Kennedy said Shanahan's "work on behalf of honest governance, racial equity, regenerative agriculture and children's and maternal health reflects many of our country's most urgent needs," per a post on X.

Who is Shanahan?

Shanahan, founder and president of Bia-Echo Foundation, graduated from the University of Puget Sound and Santa Clara University School of Law, according to People.

  • Shanahan married Brin in 2018, though the two later divorced. She "committed" to her partner Jacob Strumwasser at a ceremony in July 2023.
  • In 2013, she started patent analytics company ClearAccessIP, which IPwe acquired in 2020.

Democratic donations

  • Shanahan has donated to Democratic presidential campaigns in years past, including for Pete Buttigieg and Marianne Williamson, per Forbes.
  • She also contributed $25,000 to the Biden Victory Fund in 2020.
  • Shanahan also gave a maximum contribution of $6,600 to Kennedy's campaign in May 2023 while he was running on the Democratic ticket, per The New York Times.

Funding Kennedy's Super Bowl ad

  • Shanahan contributed $4 million and creative guidance to the American Values super PAC, which was responsible for Kennedy's Super Bowl ad, according to the NYT.
  • The $7 million ad garnered mixed reviews, including criticism from Kennedy's own family.
  • The independent candidate apologized to his family for the 30-second piece, which mirrored a 1960 presidential campaign ad for his uncle, former President John F. Kennedy.

Zoom out: Regardless of his VP pick, Kennedy is running a long-shot presidential run as he faces former President Trump and President Biden — the respective GOP and Democratic presumptive nominees.

  • Kennedy's switch to an independent ticket this past October also created fear among Democrats that it could help Trump defeat Biden in November.
  • Representatives for Shanahan did not immediately respond to Axios' requests for comment.

Go deeper: RFK Jr. selects Nicole Shanahan as running mate for independent bid

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