Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg likes New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R). According to a report by Buzzfeed, the nation's youngest billionaire will host a fundraiser for the outspoken governor's reelection campaign.
The Thursday report says:
Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg will host a fundraiser next month in his Palo Alto home for Republican New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, both camps confirmed to BuzzFeed.
Christie, who is up for reelection this year, first met Zuckerberg in 2010, when the Silicon Valley billionaire donated $100 million to Newark public schools. But the backing from Facebook's chairman and chief executive offers far more than money: It is a mark of how Christie, almost alone among his party, has emerged as the sort of natural figure who can cut deep into traditionally Democratic constituencies, like powerful young tech magnates.
What also makes this fundraiser notable is that this is the very first known political fundraising activity by Zuckerberg. Aside from the opening contribution to Facebook's political action committee, the 28-year-old has not made a publicly disclosed political contribution in his life and is not known to have held a fundraiser for any other politician.
Zuckerberg's wealth, estimated at $9.4 billion, puts him in the stratosphere of political donors -- people such as casino tycoon Sheldon Adelson, hedge fund manager George Soros and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who can fund any form of political effort they so please. His decision to aid a Republican will certainly focus attention on his heretofore undisclosed political allegiances.
According to the Buzzfeed report, Zuckerberg's interest in Christie stems from the governor's "education reform" proposals, which include the expansion of charter schools. This puts Zuckerberg well in the mainstream of billionaire tech executives like Bill Gates, who pump millions of dollars into efforts to encourage charter schools and put pressure on teachers' unions.
Christie had previously fought with teachers' unions in New Jersey, but reached an agreement with them in late 2012 that included merit pay and performance evaluation for teachers. He has since praised American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten, saying, "We found that boulevard of compromise that exists, between compromising your principles -- which neither of us would ever do -- and getting everything you want, which you're never going to get."