Marc Benioff, the billionaire who has emerged as a spokesperson for a more liberal and civically active Silicon Valley, is stepping away from partisan politics.
Recode has learned the founder of Salesforce is no longer making political contributions to candidates, fundraising for candidates, or endorsing candidates. It’s a stark departure from Benioff’s storied past as a political animal who has given millions to campaigns and picked bruising fights with other tech leaders over tax evasion and corporate power. The reason? Benioff is likely striving for impartiality after buying Time magazine in late 2018.
“I will not [be taking] public positions on candidates,” he told Recode in a text message. “I no longer make political positions or funding since buying Time Magazine.”
Benioff shared that policy when asked which presidential candidate he would be voting for on Tuesday in California’s Democratic primary. Benioff said he had “stopped everything” revolving around candidates — something that he says he’s been explaining recently to the many political aspirants who have been coming to him seeking support.
Originally a self-described Republican who gave his very first check to Steve Forbes during Forbes’s quixotic run for the GOP nomination in 1996, Benioff went on to take an appointment in the George W. Bush administration. Over the years, he has turned more liberal in his political giving — in 2016 he hosted a fundraiser for Hillary Clinton — but he continued to make donations to some Republicans, such as Kevin McCarthy just last May.
“I was at one time a Republican, but now I’m an independent,” Benioff wrote in his new book, Trailblazer, published last year. “I’ve given advice to both George W. Bush and Barack Obama. I personally held a fundraiser for Hillary Clinton in 2016, but I had no problem coming to the Donald Trump White House in my capacity as a business leader to talk about workforce development and technology training programs. Salesforce is not a political organization and our values don’t come with party affiliations.”
Over the last 25 years, Benioff has given $1.7 million to politicians and groups, including a $500,000 contribution to a gun-control group in 2013. But Benioff made no disclosed political contributions dating back to June of last year except for donations to Salesforce’s PAC, his longest stretch of political inactivity since mid-2014, according to a review of federal records.
It’s not unreasonable for media owners to try to avoid taking partisan political stances so as not to jeopardize their publication’s objectivity. It can put reporters in a bind — one need look no further than the conniption at Bloomberg News as its owner, Mike Bloomberg, runs for president.
But Benioff is taking a step away from partisan politics at a moment when other tech leaders are rushing toward it. Silicon Valley has been awakened by a new spirit of activism to protest the Trump administration, and some tech billionaires have sought to channel their money and energy toward new political projects to remove Trump from office in 2020. Benioff, if anything, has taken the opposite tack: He has fostered an at-times warm relationship with the Trump administration — convincing the president to sign off, for instance, on a new tree-planting initiative — and resisting calls from Salesforce employees to cancel the company’s contract with Customs and Border Protection since the agency helps implement the Trump administration’s immigration policy.
There is one exception, however, to Benioff’s new vow of political neutrality: The garrulous Salesforce founder said he would continue to weigh in on ballot measures related to homelessness, an issue close to Benioff’s heart. (Other ballot initiatives, Benioff said, he would personally stay out of.)
In 2018, Benioff argued publicly with another tech titan, Twitter and Square CEO Jack Dorsey, over a tax proposition that would fund new anti-homelessness spending in San Francisco, where Salesforce and Twitter are both headquartered. The measure, Proposition C, eventually passed, to Benioff’s delight.
And he himself has long been dogged by speculation that he would want to run for San Francisco mayor someday. With the Time deal, that seems as unlikely as ever.
WATCH: For the record, Tim Hudak is not returning to politics – BradfordToday
Tim Hudak spent more than two decades as a provincial politician at Queen’s Park, including five years as leader of Ontario’s Progressive Conservative Party. He is now CEO of the Ontario Real Estate Association (OREA), a position he has held since 2016.
Would the former Opposition Leader ever consider a political comeback?
Hudak was asked that question during a recent appearance on Inside the Village, a news podcast produced by Village Media. His answer was pretty unequivocal.
You can watch the full interview here, or download the episode wherever you find your favourite podcasts.
Marc Garneau on enjoying political life after cabinet ouster, writing his memoirs – The Globe and Mail
Had things gone as he hoped, Marc Garneau would be foreign affairs minster today, carrying on with a run in the cabinets of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau that began when the Liberals won power in 2015.
But the 73-year-old former astronaut – once one of the highest-profile members of Mr. Trudeau’s cabinets for his roles as transport minister for five years and foreign affairs minister for nine months – was left out after the Liberals won a minority government last fall, a turn that caught many by surprise.
In an interview, the MP for the Montreal riding of Notre-Dame-de-Grâce-Westmount declined to say whether he would have run for his fifth term had he known he wouldn’t make it back to cabinet.
“Obviously, when I went into the election I was hoping to continue my work in foreign affairs, but I am also grounded in reality and know every new government is a new decision point for the prime minister to decide how he wants to compose his government. I was aware of these things, but I decided that I wanted to run again,” Mr. Garneau said from his Parliament Hill office.
Now, Mr. Garneau says, things are fine, and he is enjoying his roles as a chair, joint chair and member of various Parliament Hill committees.
“I am fully occupied with things that I do care deeply about so you move on in life and you enjoy what you have the chance to do, and as long as you feel the desire to serve you continue to do that.”
His roles include chair of the standing committee on Indigenous and Northern affairs, and joint chair of a Special Joint Committee on Medical Assistance in Dying.
“For me to have had an opportunity to work, in essence, on reconciliation through this standing committee and to work on a topic that is so important it can affect everybody, which is medical assistance in dying, those are very rewarding new responsibilities I am enjoying tremendously.”
For seven years of his political career, he was asking the questions on committees as a member of the opposition, and then for six years he was taking questions as a cabinet minister. “I was the one, if you would like, in the hot seat,” he said. Being the chair is a new experience. “It does require you to have a certain level of impartiality so the committee can function properly in the way it should and everyone has a voice. That was a bit of a learning curve for me.”
Peter Trent, the former mayor of the Montreal suburb of Westmount, is a long-time friend of Mr. Garneau. He was so taken aback by Mr. Garneau being left out of cabinet that he wrote a column for The Montreal Gazette that ran last October under the headline: “Marc Garneau, the ‘anti-politician,’ deserves better.” It was sharply critical of Mr. Trudeau’s judgment.
But, he says, Mr. Garneau has taken his fate well. “He’s accepted what happened in a very Zen way,” Mr. Trent said. “The rest of us aren’t as Zen and still harbour a strong resentment as to the way he was treated.”
Mr. Garneau is writing his memoirs, drafting a narrative on a life story that saw the Quebec City native serve in the navy and become, in 1984, the first Canadian in space when he served as a payload specialist on the Challenger space shuttle. He returned to space on subsequent missions, and was president of the Canadian Space Agency.
But elected politics beckoned. Mr. Garneau was first elected to Parliament in 2008, while Stephen Harper was prime minister. In 2012, he ran for the leadership of the federal Liberal Party, competing with, among others, his eventual boss at the cabinet table. He eventually left the race and endorsed Mr. Trudeau, who won.
Mr. Garneau stepped up work on his memoirs over a few weeks in December and January while recovering from hip-replacement surgery.
“I got quite a bit done,” he said. “I got the chapters from the beginning of my life up until I entered politics done, and I have had those reviewed by my dear wife and my daughter so those are in pretty good shape.” He does not have an agent or publisher.
When he was left out of cabinet, Mr. Garneau says his constituents and the media reacted more intensely than colleagues on Parliament Hill. “Here in Ottawa, I think people understand the way things go and that these are possible outcomes.”
Mr. Garneau says the Prime Minister offered him an opportunity to be Canada’s ambassador in France, but he turned it down for reasons that he was not going to discuss.
As for seeking another term, he notes the next election is three years away. “My health is good,” he said. “We’ll see.”
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Ex-Wildrose leader Danielle Smith reannounces UCP leadership bid as next step in Alberta politics – Global News
She thanked Kenney for the work he has done for Alberta’s energy industry and added she wouldn’t mind seeing Kenney stay on as premier until a new leader has been elected.
“I want to start off by thanking Premier Jason Kenney for all the work that he’s done over the last number of years.
“I’ve decided to jump back into politics, seeking the leadership of the UCP. That is just a continuation of my last political life,” Smith said.
Jason Kenney announces intention to step down as UCP leader
Smith spared no time getting into her platform, saying she will fix and restore faith in Alberta politics. She also said she will attempt to unite the UCP and pointed to the large number of people who registered to vote in Kenney’s leadership review.
“If you look at what happened during the UCP leadership contest, there were a lot of people who got brought into the UCP who had never been in politics before and I think that’s what has occurred,” Smith said.
“I think there has been a lot of division that has happened between friends and family, and we need to stop dividing people along identity lines… We are stronger united and that holds for our conservative movement as well.”
Smith also said she wants to see more people run in the leadership race and noted she respects the role of individual MLAs in Alberta politics.
“I would love to see Todd Lowen and Drew Barnes throw their name in the race for UCP leadership. We need to start unifying the movement again and that’s going to require all hands on deck over the next couple of years,” Smith said.
UCP caucus meeting to discuss future after Jason Kenney announces plan to step down
But Smith also spent time talking about her own credentials, saying she has a lot of experience as the former party leader for the Wildrose Party, which merged with the UCP in 2017.
She also talked about her time as a former radio host on 770 CHQR as proof she can “take the heat” in Alberta politics.
“I’m not going to enter a contest thinking I’m going to come in second place… This is a real opportunity for the UCP to make sure that we’re selling memberships, that we’re getting people excited again.
“I can handle the heat. I have handled it for a lot of years, and that’s the way I conducted myself on the radio,” Smith said.
© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.
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