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Thursday, October 9, 2014

Sean Parker Is Now a Top California Political Power Player In November Election

Posted By on Thu, Oct 9, 2014 at 7:21 AM

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Sean Parker, legendary for helping single mothers get sued for downloading LeAnn Rimes songs and for throwing really dope weddings, is now one of the top power players in California politics.

Which is to say, the Napster co-founder, early Facebook investor and Justin Timberlake lookalike is super-rich, and is spending millions of dollars of his fortune on candidates and campaigns.

Parker is now the top donor to two major California voter initiatives, according to the Fair Political Practices Commission, putting him in the good company of public-employee unions, tribal casinos, and trial lawyers. Except much more popular at parties. 

And just what is Parker supporting? Whatever Gov. Jerry Brown wants, mostly.

Parker donated $1 million each to Propositions 1 and 2, the new water bond and the state "budget stabilization account" (sort of a piggy bank, except a piggy bank that will some day have billions of dollars). 

The water bond is the governor's key effort for this year, and Prop. 2 is also a nonpolitical, fiscally smart, think-for-the-future push that has no political opposition. Actually, neither the water bond nor the rainy day fund have any serious opposition — which sort of begs the question, why did Parker bother?

We called the telephone number connected to Parker's contributions. Nobody answered, and the voicemail box was full.

This is not Parker's first time bankrolling political efforts. But so far, Parker has confined his support to mainstream Democrats... and weed.

Parker gave $100,000 to San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee in 2011, records show, the exact same amount he contributed to the losing effort to legalize marijuana in 2010, Proposition 19.

This year, he gave more than $50,000 to Gov. Brown, $13,600 to Attorney General Kamala Harris, and $64,000 to efforts in support of Maggy Krell, a 35-year-old legal wunderkind and San Francisco native who's running for Sacramento County District Attorney.

But that million-dollar donation to Brown's pet projects are by far Parker's biggest gives yet. And by doing so, he's clearly put himself in the very good graces of California's best-connected and most powerful people. 

A few million bucks is, incidentally, exactly what marijuana legalization efforts needed earlier this year in order to make the ballot. To put it another way, the money Sean Parker is spending to make sure the state has water could have been used to legalize cannabis.


(An earlier version of this story said that Parker had donated $1 million each to Props. 1 and 2. Parker donated only a single $1 million, to a committee that supports both propositions, a Fair Political Practices Commission spokesman said). 

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About The Author

Chris Roberts

Chris Roberts has spent most of his adult life working in San Francisco news media, which is to say he's still a teenager in Middle American years. He has covered marijuana, drug policy, and politics for SF Weekly since 2009.

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