Nicole Shanahan is a Checkbook for RFK Jr., Not a Serious Running Mate 

Today, The New York Times released a deep dive on RFK Jr.’s running mate, Nicole Shanahan, and her turbulent past as a self described “Silicon Valley Princess.” The story underscores how little Shanahan was vetted before she was chosen as Kennedy’s running mate. It lays bare her disqualifying baggage and complete lack of qualifications to serve as a VP nominee, making clear that she was only picked for her money.

Recently, The Washington Post highlighted RFK Jr.’s bizarre non-relationship with Shanahan. She’s admitted she only had a few personal conversations with RFK Jr. before being asked to be his running-mate and that she was okay with being subbed even the day before the announcement. Del Bigtree, RFK Jr.’s communications director, even went as far as to say “The only perspective [he’s] focused on is Bobby’s.” 

In response, DNC Spokesperson Matt Corridoni released the following statement: 

“Nicole Shanahan was chosen as RFK Jr.’s running mate for one reason and one reason alone: her checkbook. RFK Jr.’s campaign is desperately in need of money and she’s more than happy to be the ATM as they try to buy their way onto the ballot. Access to unlimited funds does not a Vice President make. New reporting has made clear Shanahan wasn’t vetted and isn’t ready to step up and lead in a time of crisis – she is just the only person who said yes to a desperate and vanity-driven campaign.” 

ICYMI: The New York Times: ‘Silicon Valley Princess’: Inside the Life of Nicole Shanahan, R.F.K. Jr.’s Running Mate

By: Kirsten Grind 

  • Ms. Shanahan, 38, a onetime Silicon Valley lawyer, has never held public office and has scant name recognition. But she was selected after Mr. Rodgers and Mr. Ventura fell through as vice-presidential candidates and Mr. Kennedy’s campaign needed money to fund its efforts to get onto state ballots, three people familiar with the events said. And money was something that Ms. Shanahan could provide in abundance.
  • Mr. Kennedy, who is running as an independent, picked Ms. Shanahan without his advisers having looked fully into her history or where her money was coming from, two people familiar with the campaign said. By then, she had already become a crucial financier of his run.
  • Ms. Shanahan began attending campaign events with Mr. Kennedy this month. At a fund-raiser in Nashville last week, she announced that she had given another $8 million to the campaign and said, “I think I know what they’re going to say — they’re going to say Bobby only picked me for my money.
  • Ms. Shanahan has a fortune of more than $1 billion that stems largely from her divorce settlement last year with Sergey Brin, a founder of Google, whose net worth exceeds $145 billion, three people with knowledge of her finances said.
  • In a February interview with The Times, Ms. Shanahan described herself as a onetime “Silicon Valley princess.”
  • “Status is very important to Nicole, and the amount of money you have,” said Daniel Morris, a photographer based in Puerto Rico who was friends with Ms. Shanahan and her first husband, Jeremy Kranz, a technology investor.

ICYMI: The Washington Post: ‘I ran into her yesterday’: RFK’s strange non-relationship with his VP pick

By: Ashley Parker and Meryl Kornfield

  • The public disconnect between Kennedy and Shanahan lends heft to a theory percolating in political circles: that while Shananan’s money may be incredibly valuable to Kennedy’s quixotic bid for the White House, the woman herself is a bit extraneous.
  • Kennedy’s communications director, Del Bigtree, put an even finer point on how the Kennedy operation seems to view its vice-presidential pick when asked by a Washington Post reporter who in the campaign might be able to speak on Shanahan’s behalf.
  • “I’ve never had a conversation with her about who shares her perspective,” Bigtree said. “The only perspective I’m really focused on is Bobby’s.”
  • In February, [Shanahan] gave $4 million to his super PAC for a 30-second Super Bowl ad, but because of the rules restricting communication between a campaign and its super PAC, “no one on the campaign even had a personal relationship with me,” she explained on a podcast with Sage Steele, a former ESPN host.
  • “I had only spoken to Bobby personally a few times before that,” Shanahan told Steele on the May 1 podcast. “I had zero idea in my mind that I would ever be asked to run as his running mate.”
  • And as recently as last Tuesday, Shanahan returned to the idea that she might simply be serving as a placeholder for Kennedy’s true vice president.
  • “I won’t lie, the day before the announcement, I was still, you know, texting and sending messages asking if I was the right person,” she said in a Zoom prayer circle hosted by the campaign. “I have no ego in this. I want the best person in this role.”
  • Shanahan also may not have been interrogated about her policy positions, and whether they align with Kennedy’s. At times, the two have seemed to diverge on abortion rights, an issue that is expected to prove pivotal in the November contest.
  • Another, smaller moment of discordance emerged during the first episode of Shanahan’s own podcast. While interviewing Kennedy — her inaugural guest — Shanahan brought up the idea that their campaign could result in a “contingent election,” in which no candidate reaches the required 270 electoral college votes and the House of Representatives then decides the outcome. 
  • But Kennedy’s campaign has tried to distance itself from the idea of a contingent election, going as far as to fire a New York-based staffer who suggested that the campaign’s goal was to force a contingent election to deprive President Biden of a second term.
  • Even some Kennedy fans have expressed skepticism at his choice for a No. 2. “Team Kennedy dropped the ball by introducing an unfamiliar and unconventional choice as his running mate, then neglecting to effectively set her up for smart messaging under their guide, instead of letting rushed assumptions and paranoia shape first impressions,” Jessica Reed Kraus — a California-based influencer who has posted approvingly about both Kennedy and former president Donald Trump — wrote on her Substack.