Nicole Shanahan, Wealthy Lawyer, Is R.F.K. Jr.’s Vice-Presidential Pick

Robert F. Kennedy Jr. on Tuesday named Nicole Shanahan, a Silicon Valley lawyer, investor and political neophyte, as his running mate in his independent presidential bid.

His advisers and backers hope the move will inject new energy — as well as financial support — into his long-shot bid for the White House, as his campaign gears up for months of legal battles to place his name on state ballots.

Ms. Shanahan, 38, who was formerly married to the Google co-founder Sergey Brin, has given $4.5 million to super PACs backing Mr. Kennedy over the past year, including a $4 million donation helping to pay for a Super Bowl ad backing him. She also funds research on health and the environment, issues that Mr. Kennedy — an environmental lawyer and vaccine skeptic who has spread conspiracy theories — has made cornerstones of his campaign.

Ms. Shanahan emerged as his favored vice-presidential pick in recent weeks, after the N.F.L. quarterback Aaron Rodgers and the former Minnesota governor Jesse Ventura had been at the top of Mr. Kennedy’s shortlist.

She has a history of contributing to Democrats, including to President Biden’s 2020 campaign. She has backed Mr. Kennedy since last spring, when he was still seeking the Democratic nomination. In October, he became an independent candidate, saying the Democratic Party had corruptly blocked his efforts to challenge Mr. Biden in the primary race.

In an interview last month, Ms. Shanahan said she had initially backed Mr. Kennedy because she was “excited” by him, and was worried about Mr. Biden’s health. She said she had spoken with Mr. Kennedy only once, on the phone, when he was still running as a Democrat.

When Mr. Kennedy left the party, she was “incredibly disappointed,” she said, alarmed by how “divisive” she thought the move was. “I kind of withdrew, and paused all my political giving.”

It was only in January that she began to re-engage with Mr. Kennedy’s campaign, and as she did, she said, she found “almost like a secret society of individuals” who were backing him. “It was very, very interesting to me to hear how people have been kind of stirred by his message and his willingness to be out there,” she said.

She made the large donation helping to bankroll the Super Bowl ad supporting Mr. Kennedy, which was bought by an allied super PAC, and told The New York Times that she had provided creative guidance. The ad, which repurposed a 1960 ad for Mr. Kennedy’s uncle, John F. Kennedy, drew criticism from members of the Kennedy family, who have emphatically distanced themselves from the campaign.

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