State Attorney General Letitia James’ top backer is a Democratic mega donor who lives 3,000 miles from New York on the Left Coast — and could be a funding force as James seeks the Democratic nomination for governor in a hotly contested primary next year.
Dr. Karla Jurvetson, 55, a Silicon Valley psychiatrist, has emerged as one of the country’s biggest Democratic contributors pumping her money into left wing candidates and causes and has targeted James as a recipient of her largesse.
Jurvetson has already doled out $63,300 to James’ Attorney General campaign coffers —making her the AG’s single largest individual contributor since 2018. The money from that campaign can be used for the governor’s contest.
“This no-name donor might not be on the tip of anyone’s tongue here, but she sure will help Tish put her campaign money where her mouth is in a big way,” said a senior New York Democratic insider.
Jurvetson began by backing James in August 2019 with a modest $1,000 contribution, which increased to $2,600 the next month and then $10,000 in December 2020.
Her biggest donation came on March 19, 2021, when Jurvetson kicked in $49,700. She made it a little more than two weeks after James’ office took on the probe into sexual harassment allegations against Gov. Andrew Cuomo, an investigation that would lead to his resignation in August.
That donation put Jurvetson ahead of other more familiar New York donors including real estate honcho Scott Rechler who gave James $50,000; PR guru Steven Rubenstein who kicked in $45,000 and supermarket mogul John Catsimatidis who contributed $41,000, state records show.
“We’ve always claimed that James was out of touch with the average New Yorker and I would say that her largest contributor being a West Coast psychiatrist certainly helps make that point” said Gerard Kassar, chairman of the state Conservative Party.
In New York, Jurvetson’s cash has also gone to the Working Families Party, to which she gave $117,300 on Oct. 4.; to successful Manhattan District Attorney candidate Alvin Bragg, who got $5,000; and to socialist candidate India Walton, who received $10,797 and lost Tuesday’s election for Buffalo mayor.
On the federal level, she shelled out an eye popping $33,796,890 in the 2020 election cycle, making her the ninth biggest donor in the country overall and the fourth highest to Democrats, according to the Open Secrets website.
In 2020, Jurvetson poured $14.6 million into a super PAC supporting Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s presidential bid. She also reportedly gave more than $2 million to Stacy Abrams’ Fair Fight group, which backs Democratic candidates and causes.
She’s contributed $36,250 this year to lefty darling Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and her “squad” in Congress — Rashida Tlaib, Ihan Omar, Ayanna Pressley, Cori Bush and Jamaal Bowman — as well as $13,600 since 2020 to the Black Lives Matter PAC.
“She is a major funder of the squad and just about every politician on Capitol Hill who wants to defund the police,” said a senior GOP operative familiar with her donations.
She hosted a 2019 fund-raiser for the Democratic Unity Fund where former President Obama was the main attraction and tickets went for up to $355,000 a piece.
Jurvetson is on the board of Emily’s List which supports pro-choice candidates. She gave $5.4 million to a super PAC run by the group, but the donation was reportedly made in shares of stock in Baidu, a Chinese tech company, raising questions about an improper foreign contribution. The PAC claimed to have cleared the donation.
Jurvetson’s former husband, Steve Jurvetson, is a venture capitalist and tech investor who was an earlier backer of Hotmail, Skype, SpaceX and Tesla among others.
She said she was motivated to pour her cash into political contests — particularly focusing on female candidates — after Donald Trump was elected president, according to a profile in The Mercury News.
“Women have gained enough economic power and political power so we can translate our frustration into action. I feel like it’s our moral duty, if we’re not going to run ourselves, to support the women who are brave enough to put their name on the ballot,” she told the newspaper.
Jurvetson did not immediately return a request for comment. A message to James’ campaign was not immediately returned.