Venture capitalist Ron Conway attended a Jeb Bush fundraiser at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in San Francisco today, entering through the underground parking garage in an apparent bid to avoid reporters.
Conway’s venture capital firm benefited greatly from early investments in tech giants such as Google, Facebook, Twitter and PayPal. He has parlayed his vast wealth into a considerable political machine in California, particularly in San Francisco, where he has used his influence to elect an array of tech-friendly Democratic politicians, including Mayor Ed Lee, several members of the Board of Supervisors, and recently-elected Assemblyman David Chiu. Formerly a registered Republican, Conway became a “Decline to State” voter (California’s version of independent) in 2012 as his political star rose in San Francisco.
Conway’s influence is widely known in the tech industry. He was a key champion of a payroll tax change to help Twitter, and also helped to found San Francisco Citizens Initiative for Technology and Innovation, known as sf.citi, the dominant tech trade association in the city.
Bush’s campaign operation has taken steps to conceal the names of certain big-money donors. The names of donors to Bush’s Super PAC, Right to Rise, will not be revealed until July 15, according to a campaign spokesperson. And some donors’ identities could be a secret forever. In February, Bush’s Right to Rise also formed a 501(c)(4) issue advocacy wing, which, like a Super PAC, can raise and spend unlimited amounts of money — but unlike a Super PAC, never has to reveal donor names.
Many other donors slipped through the hotel entrance without speaking to a small group of assembled reporters. Venture capitalist David Morgenthaler stopped briefly to chat with reporters and said that he was attending the event today to hear Bush’s views on foreign policy, among other matters.
Shortly before the event began, Salesforce chief executive Marc Benioff exited the hotel to tell reporters that he had discussed Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act with Bush, and that he was glad to see Gov. Mike Pence, R-Ind., agree to changes.
Photo: Brian Ach/Getty