Netflix co-founder/co-CEO Reed Hastings has contributed $3 million to California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s campaign against a recall election set for this fall. Newsom, a Democrat, is being challenged by numerous political opponents, including celebrity Caitlyn Jenner and former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulkner, over his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic in the state.
Hastings’ contribution, disclosed in a May 20 state filing, dwarfs other contributions in a political battle that is expected to cost in excess of $100 million. Interestingly, Hastings supported Newsom’s Democrat opponent, former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, in the 2018 governor election.
With a personal fortune reportedly worth nearly $5 billion, Hastings is no stranger to backing political, public educational and social causes. The longtime Democrat and his wife Patty Quillin last year donated $120 million to educational institutions in support of students of color. The contributions included $40 million each to the United Negro College Fund and private colleges Spelman and Morehouse in Atlanta.
After a stint in the Peace Corps in Africa teaching high school math in Swaziland, Hastings pursued a career in tech before launching Netflix as the first by-mail movie disc rental service with business partner Marc Randolph. Along the way, he’s been a big contributor to charter schools, including spending almost $9 million campaigning for select school measures. In 2016, Hastings pledged a $100 million philanthropic fund for children’s education.