Tech grows up: $27 million and counting donated to the Obama presidential campaign

Tech grows up: $27 million and counting donated to the Obama presidential campaign

Today Buzzfeed published a fascinating report, breaking down a leaked bundler list, detailing the growing influence of technology in the political realm. Its analysis indicates that technology figures on the list have raised some $27 million for the sitting President’s current campaign.

The $27 million was raised by just 43 individuals, including names you know, such as Marc Benioff and Marissa Mayer.

However, while that is interesting, the dollar figure is hard to put in context. Is $27 million a sizable amount in relation to other donations sources? Answer: yes. In the same report, Buzzfeed outlined donation coming from ‘entertainment’ sources. Total tally: $9.5 million since 2011, the same time-frame used to come to the $27 million figure.

Essentially, for the President, technology is almost three times as active a source for bundled donations as is the Hollywood machine. It has been used as a cudgel before, that the Democratic party takes monies from the purveyors of sleaze and other schlock; while that remains the case, it would be much more accurate to describe the party as the recipient of a Silicon Valley’s patronage.

What does this mean in a practical sense? That technology, like it or not, is becoming an increasingly important player in the political landscape. It’s not just money, naturally. The lobbying operations of leading technology firms are on the rise. Facebook’s DC team has grown so large and well-funded that Politico, a leading political publication, wrote an extensive piece detailing its efforts. The post was entitled ‘Facebook’s Power Play.’

As you likely suspected, as technology figures are stepping up the money influx, so too are firms in the industry themselves. From an earlier TNW post:

In the first quarter of 2012, according to a report in The Hill, Facebook spent $650,000, up some 183% from a year ago. Google spent more than $5 million in the quarter, up from $1.5 million a year ago, more than tripling. Microsoft, IBM, and HP each spent around $1.5 million.

The increases from Facebook and Google are interesting as they may indicate a growing concern among leading-edge technology firms that the government might do something foolish, impacting their business.

Technology is increasingly a political area of the economy. Recently, the House held a hearing on what it somewhat humorously called the ‘apps economy.’ We’re gearing up for sparring of the sale of new spectrum. Cybersecurity is hardly over, and piracy remains a policy point.

Cybersecurity itself illuminates the fact that the domain of technology is coming further under the curve of Washington: yesterday three leading Senators published an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal pushing back against the President’s potential executive order, arguing in favor of a bill in the Senate akin to the House’s CISPA. As TNW noted, not only was the editorial factually incorrect in several places, it landed on the very wrong side of the issue of privacy.

Given that, the money and time and energy being devoted to influencing politics and its actors might be just what we need.

Top Image Credit: Mark Coggins

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