What We Know About RFK Jr.’s Veep

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Earlier this month, Mediaite reported that Robert F. Kennedy Jr. was expected to select Bay Area lawyer and Democratic donor Nicole Shanahan as his running mate. Though the Kennedy campaign played coy at first, the independent candidate made the news official during an event in Oakland, California on Tuesday. Initial reports suggested that Kennedy had also considered former wrestler and Minnesota governor Jesse Ventura as well as New York Jets quarterback Aaron Rodgers.

Here’s what we know about Shanahan as she’s set to join the race for the White House.

Shanahan was raised in Oakland, the child of Chinese immigrant parents. According to her LinkedIn page, she graduated from the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, Washington, where she majored in Asian Studies and minored in Economics and Mandarin. She later received a law degree from Santa Clara University School of Law.

She founded and served as CEO of the Palo Alto–based firm ClearAccessIP, a patent analytics company. In 2020, the firm was acquired by IPwe. Currently, she is the president and founder of the Bia-Echo Foundation, a private foundation that invests in “reproductive longevity and equality, criminal justice reform and a healthy and livable planet,” per its website.

In 2018, Shanahan married Sergey Brin, a co-founder of Google, and had a daughter. In 2022, the Wall Street Journal reported that Brin had filed for divorce after Shanahan allegedly had a brief affair with tech billionaire Elon Musk. Both Musk and Shanahan deny the allegation. Brin and Shanahan’s divorce was finalized last year.

In February, the New York Times reported that Shanahan was behind Kennedy’s much-discussed Super Bowl ad, which was a play on a famous spot from his uncle’s 1960 campaign. In an interview, Shanahan confirmed that she gave $4 million to American Values 2024, the super-PAC that ran the ad, and was involved in its production. The 30-second clip reportedly cost $7 million in total.

There’s speculation that Shanahan, as a wealthy entrepreneur, could help Kennedy with the expensive task of accessing the ballot in all 50 states. The campaign previously estimated that it could cost $15 million to do so.

Shanahan has donated to many Democratic candidates in the past, calling herself a “lifelong Democrat” in an interview with ABC News. In 2019, Vox reported that she was listed as a co-host for a Pete Buttigieg fundraiser in Palo Alto alongside other prominent Silicon Valley figures including Netflix CEO Reed Hastings and Michelle Sandberg, the sister of then–Facebook chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg. Shanahan also previously donated the $2,800 individual maximum to both Buttigieg and Marianne Williamson’s campaigns during the 2020 election, as well as $25,000 to the Biden Victory Fund PAC, per Forbes.

In an interview with the Times, Shanahan seemed to echo her potential running mate, Kennedy, saying that she is “not an anti-vaxxer,” but saying she does wonder about “vaccine injuries.”

“I think there needs to be a space to have these conversations,” she said.

The location of the campaign’s announcement was likely a hint. The March 26 event was held in Oakland, a city that Shanahan has deep ties to.

In its article reporting Shanahan’s selection, Mediaite found that the website domain had been registered on March 13 and that a donation page appeared live. The domain was apparently registered to Link Lipsitz, a Kennedy campaign adviser.

Rolling Stone reported that a similar domain,, had been registered on March 4, indicating the Kennedy campaign’s interest — at least initially — in Aaron Rodgers as a potential running mate. After Rolling Stone contacted Doug Stafford, a Republican strategist who recently joined the Kennedy team and was connected to the registration, was taken offline.

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