RFK Jr.’s Running Mate Nicole Shanahan Is a Silicon Valley Lawyer Once Married to Google’s Sergey Brin

Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s VP pick is a prolific Democratic donor who produced the Independent presidential hopeful’s Super Bowl ad

Nicole Shanahan wearing a black sleeveless dress on a red carpet
Nicole Shanahan, President of Bia-Echo Foundation, attends Gold House's Inaugural Gold Gala in Los Angeles in 2022.

Robert F. Kennedy Jr. announced Tuesday that his running mate for his Independent presidential bid is Nicole Shanahan, a Silicon Valley lawyer, philanthropist and political donor.

Shanahan, 38, is best known for being the former wife of Google co-founder Sergey Brin. They married in 2018 and share a young daughter, Echo. They filed for divorce in January 2022 and finalized their divorce in 2023.

She is the founder of the Bia-Echo Foundation, which invests in innovation, reproductive longevity, equality and criminal justice reform. Her work includes the Center for Reproductive Longevity and Equality at the Buck Institute on Aging. Shanahan was also the founder of ClearAccessIP, a patent management company using AI, which was acquired by IPwe in 2020 for an undisclosed amount. Additionally, she is an academic fellow of CodeX, the Stanford Center of Legal Informatics, a joint center with Stanford Law School and Computer Science, to apply data science to the prosecutorial process, involving partnerships with district attorneys and community organizations. 

Nicole Shanahan
Nicole Shanahan and Sergey Brin attend the 2020 Breakthrough Prize Red Carpet at NASA Ames Research Center on November 03, 2019 in Mountain View, California. (Photo by Tim Mosenfelder/Getty Images for Breakthrough Prize)

In 2023, Shanahan held a commitment ceremony with her partner Jacob Strumwasser, a president at Lightning Labs (It came just under a year after a July 2022 Wall Street Journal story in which unnamed sources claimed Shanahan had a tryst with Tesla billionaire Elon Musk at Art Basel Miami in December 2021). Brin filed for divorce a month later.

Both Shanahan and Musk strongly denied the affair, which ruptured his friendship with Brin. Meanwhile the WSJ has said it stands by its reporting. Brin was reportedly so angry by the alleged tryst, he sold his shares in Tesla, reported to be worth $100 million.

In the past, Shanahan has donated to Democratic presidential campaigns, including for Pete Buttigieg and Marianne Williamson, Forbes reported. She gave $25,000 to the Biden Victory Fund in 2020.

The VP pick gave a maximum contribution of $6,600 to Kennedy’s campaign in May 2023 and contributed $4 million to fund and help produce his Super Bowl ad via the American Values super pac.

“It seems like a great opportunity to highlight that he’s running for president,” Shanahan said in an interview with the New York Times. She said she shares his concerns about the environment, vaccines and children’s health, and she believes Kennedy is willing to challenge the scientific establishment.

Robert F. Kennedy Jr.
Getty Images

“I do wonder about vaccine injuries,” she said, although she clarified that she is “not an anti-vaxxer,” but wanted more screening of risks for vaccinations. “I think there needs to be a space to have these conversations.”

“I do think we have an environmental health crisis in this country,” Shanahan added. “I do believe Americans deserve clean water. And we can’t achieve that in the current climate of politics.”

Kennedy, who switched from a Democratic run to an Independent ticket, is said to be a long shot for the White House. He still faces an uphill battle to get on the ballot for all 50 states.

Tuesday’s formal announcement, which took place in Oakland, Calif., ends much speculation about Kennedy’s running mate, a conversation that included former NFL star Aaron Rodgers, Scott Brown, the Republican former senator from Massachusetts, Tulsi Gabbard, the former congresswoman from Hawaii, and Jesse Ventura, the former Minnesota governor and past professional wrestler.

A politics insider told TheWrap that despite her political inexperience, Shanahan would be a valuable running mate for Kennedy. “Its not just her deep pockets, she is a younger candidate in a field full of aging candidates,” the insider said. “She has the ability to inspire a lot of younger educated voters, particularly those interested in the tech, environmental and health fields.” Plus, the source added, “The nation will see that she is an incredibly smart woman.”

Shanahan herself came from abject poverty. She has previously described how, while growing up in Oakland, her father was diagnosed with bipolar schizophrenia when she was 9, and her Chinese-born mom had only been in the United States for two years when she was born.

“I had two unemployed parents for the majority of my childhood, so not only was there no money, there was almost no parental guidance, and as you can imagine with a mentally ill father, there was lots of chaos and fear,” she told San Francisco Magazine. She grew up on food stamps and bussed tables at the age of 12.

Mediaite first reported that Shanahan was the expected choice after it found that the domain www.kennedyshanahan.com was registered on March 13, and verified a donation page was live at the subdomain pay.kennedyshanahan.com.


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