Tech

Microsoft President Brad Smith just gave $125,000 to Nancy Pelosi's fundraising committee

Key Points
  • Brad Smith, a regular contributor to Democrats, just wrote his biggest check of the year to support the speaker of the House.
  • The Nancy Pelosi Victory Fund, which helps finance the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, has raised $11.1 million in 2019, according to the Federal Election Committee.
  • Earlier this year, Smith contributed to the presidential campaigns for Joe Biden, Amy Klobuchar, Kamala Harris and Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, who has since dropped out.
Brad Smith, President and Chief Legal Officer, Microsoft speaking at the 2018 Code Conference on May 29th, 2018.
Asa Mathat | Vox Media

As House Speaker Nancy Pelosi ramps up the Trump impeachment investigation, she has a major supporter in the tech industry helping finance her future efforts.

Brad Smith, Microsoft's president and chief legal officer, contributed $125,000 last month to the Nancy Pelosi Victory Fund, according to recently released filings by the Federal Election Commission. The Pelosi-led fund is a big contributor to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and helps finance Pelosi's own campaign and political action committee.

Pelosi, who was first elected to Congress in 1987, announced a formal impeachment inquiry of President Donald Trump a month ago and has been racking up donations for her party. Her fund has raised $11.1 million this year, and in September pulled in $259,100 from Stewart and Lynda Resnick, whose company owns POM Wonderful and Fiji Water, and the same amount from Deborah Simon, whose family started the Simon Property Group.

Smith was the fund's seventh-biggest contributor in the quarter, according to the FEC website. It's by far the biggest check he's written for a politician or campaign this year. His financial support for Pelosi came just as he was releasing his book, "Tools and Weapons: The Promise and the Peril of the Digital Age," about the powers and perils of technology and the government's role in stepping in when necessary.

A Microsoft spokesperson declined to comment.

President Donald J. Trump meets with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Congressional leadership Wednesday, Oct. 16, 2019, in the Cabinet Room of the White House.
Sheelah Craighead | The White House

While the tech industry clearly leans left on the political spectrum, executives from major companies are often cautious with their contributions so as not to alienate employees and customers. None of the CEOs of the five most valuable U.S. tech companies — Microsoft, Apple, Amazon, Alphabet and Facebook — has donated to candidates or political parties this year.

Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg, who worked in the Treasury Department under President Bill Clinton, is among the exceptions in her industry, having contributed to a number of Democratic candidates this year, including Sens. Jeanne Shaheen, who is running for reelection in New Hampshire, and Kyrsten Sinema in Arizona.

Smith hasn't openly voiced his opinion on Trump, but he has been an outspoken voice on the issue of immigration reform, arguing for improving the green card system and supporting the Obama-era immigration program known as DACA. In June 2018, he wrote a blog post, urging Congress to consider "fundamental decency" as it was preparing to vote on immigration matters.

"As is the case for the nation, we believe the diversity of our employees is one of our greatest strengths," Smith wrote. "We appreciate, as few companies can, that a healthy immigration policy is important from a humanitarian perspective and serves as a vital engine of the nation's economic growth."

Even before the Pelosi contribution, Smith had been active this year with his donations. He previously maxed out — at $2,800 — contributions to the 2020 presidential campaigns for Joe Biden, Amy Klobuchar, Kamala Harris and Jay Inslee, who has since dropped out to run for reelection as governor of Washington. In the third quarter, Smith wrote a $2,800 check to Democratic Sen. Chris Coons of Delaware, who's running for reelection in 2020.

The biggest single donation Smith has ever made, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, was a $150,000 contribution last year to the Senate Majority PAC, a Democratic committee focused on taking control of the Senate. The vast majority of his contributions has gone toward Democrats, but he did write a $14,600 check to the National Republican Congressional Committee in 2017 and a $10,000 check to the National Republic Senatorial Committee in 2012.

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