Flickr photo by Erik HersmanMeg Whitman speaks at the 2007 eBay Live Conference.
Like most big companies, eBay has for years rained campaign cash on politicians who supported their interests and tithed to others they could call on for help in a pinch. But little did they know, several of those politicians would turn out years later to be its CEO's biggest rivals.
While she was running the company Meg Whitman's, political committees tied to the online auctionhouse once gave thousands of dollars to Whitman's future Democratic rival for governor, Jerry Brown, and even a few hundred to her GOP primary opponent, Steve Poizner. Democratic U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer, whom Whitman has taken heat for supporting, also took in a few grand from eBay's federal political action committee, as did her counterpart, Sen. Dianne Feinstein.
To be fair, a company's campaign contributions do not necessarily reflect the political preferences of its CEO. Corporations give for all sorts of reasons: to back candidates whose policies they support; to support powerful incumbents whose help they might someday need; or to bump up their place on a critical politician's priority list.
For its part, eBay gave thousands of dollars to dozens of candidates on both sides of the aisle. Parsing the motivation behind a particular donation is often impossible.
But that said, as Meg Whitman continues to tout herself as the best choice for California businesses, it's noteworthy that, at one time, her company thought Poizner, Brown and Boxer may not have been bad for business themselves.
Details on the donations follow:
|Brown for Attorney General||Oct. 11, 2006||$5,000|
|Feinstein for Senate||April 10, 2006||$2,000|
|Feinstein for Senate||Jan. 12, 2006||$1,000|
|Reformers for Steve Poizner||Sept. 20, 2004||$361.28|
|Friends of Barbara Boxer||Aug. 16, 2003||$1,000|
|Friends of Barbara Boxer||June 26, 2002||$1,000|
|Feinstein for Senate||Oct. 6, 2000||$1,000|