Most people already know about Peter Thiel, the PayPal co-founding, libertarian-philosophizing billionaire who has given $2.6 million to pro-Paul PAC Endorse Liberty. But several of his neighbors also support the man who wants to eliminate the Department of Education, end the War on Drugs, and return America to the gold standard.*
Of the 20 organizations that have contributed the most money to Paul's presidential campaign, four are technology companies from the San Francisco Bay Area, according to campaign finance website Open Secrets.
Google Inc., which is the company's political action committee, has donated $38,699 to Paul in the 2012 election cycle, which is the fourth highest total among groups and is surpassed only by the U.S. Army, the U.S. Navy, and the U.S. Air Force. So it's fair to say that Google prefers Ron Paul to Rick Santorum. (Although the only thing more disgusting than the results from Googling "rick santorum" are the results from Googling "ron paul newsletter".)
Intel, which is based in Santa Clara, was Paul's ninth biggest contributing organization, with $21,541 from its PAC, Intel Corp. Silicon Valley information technology company Cisco, 18th biggest, gave $14,615. And Oracle, the 20th largest contributor, chipped in $14,402.
But don't let these number fool you into thinking these tech giants are necessarily cheerleaders for Paul's brand of limited government. If anything, the companies seem to lean to the left.
Google Inc.'s two biggest checks -- $30,800 a piece -- went to the Democratic National Committee. In all, Google employees have donated more than $1.2 million this campaign cycle, with 11 of the 16 largest individual contributions going to Democratic causes.
Cisco's top individual contribution was senior vice president Mark Chadler's $25,000 donation to President Obama in September. Oracle's CEO Larry Ellison, the richest person in the region, covered all his basis and gave $10,000 to both sides of the political aisle in 2011, but his company's PAC has given $15,000 more to Democratic candidates than to Republican ones. Of the four Bay Area companies among Paul's top 20 donors, only Intel's PAC leaned to the right, with 54 percent of its donations going to GOP candidates.
Paul will speak at Chico State at 7 tonight, then at UCLA at 8:30 p.m. tomorrow, and finally at 7 p.m. at UC Berkeley on Thursday. Anything short of promising free tuition to all UC and CSU students, however, is unlikely to yield him enough momentum to win the state's 172 winner-take-all delegates on June 5. Most polls show Paul in fourth place, far behind the front-running Mitt Romney.
*Correction, 3:35 p.m.: Paul does not support plans for an integrated North American Union.