Silicon Valley Megadonor Karla Jurvetson Fueled Elizabeth Warren’s Super PAC with $14 Million Donation

Jurvetson has made over 500 donations in the last year, and provided 96 percent of Persist PAC's financing.

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., speaks during a primary election night rally, Tuesday, March 3, 2020, at Eastern Market in Detroit. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
Sen. Elizabeth Warren during a primary election night rally on March 3, 2020, at Eastern Market in Detroit, Mich.. Photo: Patrick Semansky/AP

In a campaign finance filing late on Friday, Persist PAC, the super PAC that attempted to revive Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s presidential campaign finally disclosed its donors.

Karla Jurvetson, a Silicon Valley megadonor, who made over 500 donations over the last year alone, provided 96 percent of the super PAC’s financing through a $14.6 million donation. Barbara Lee, a prominent Democratic donor in Massachusetts, and Women Vote! — the super PAC affiliate of EMILY’s List, a pro-choice group previously financed by Michael Bloomberg, among other wealthy donors — also provided significant funding for Persist PAC.

Jurvetson is a physician and philanthropist. A profile of the Palo Alto-based donor in the Mercury News notes that Jurveston walked door-to-door for Rep. Anna Eshoo, D-Calif., during her undergraduate years, and has long been involved in political causes, but saw the election of President Donald Trump as a major turning point. Over the last three years, she has lavished Democratic candidates with funding, with an eye towards supporting Democratic women, including conservative Democratic Arizona Sen. Kyrsten Sinema as well as progressive insurgent Jessica Cisneros.

Jurvetson separated from her husband Steve Jurvetson, a prominent venture capitalist, in 2017. She previously made headlines with an unusual donation of $5.4 million worth of stock options from the Chinese technology company Baidu to Women Vote!

The filing for Persist PAC, which was formed on February 18, has been much anticipated given charges of hypocrisy leveled at the Massachusetts senator for receiving the type of loosely regulated, big-money support she has long assailed as corrosive to democracy.

The pro-Warren group staged a last-minute intervention into the Democratic primary, spending $9 million in battleground Super Tuesday states, largely on television commercials.

The late formation of the campaign committee meant that the group was able to legally delay disclosure of its donors until over a month after it was created and millions of voters had already gone to the polls.

Warren’s anti-super PAC rhetoric was a major feature of her campaign. During the debate in New Hampshire in February, she challenged the other candidates on stage to “put your money where your mouth is” and disavow super PAC support.

“We don’t build a democracy with Super PACS or people sucking up to billionaires,” she tweeted.

The Persist PAC ads touted Warren’s humble upbringing and work on the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

Kristen Orthman, Warren’s communications director, previously told reporters that Warren “believes Persist PAC and all other super PACs should disclose their donors before Super Tuesday.”

Warren has long opposed the intervention of super PACs in politics, going back to her first Senate race in 2012, when she forged an agreement with then-Sen. Scott Brown, R-Mass., who joined her in rejecting the influence of independent expenditures in the race. The two candidates agreed to donate money to charity to match the outside dollars spent in the race.

Join The Conversation