Facebook Inc. (FB) Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg, the billionaire who pledged $100 million to help schools in Newark, New Jersey, will support Governor Chris Christie’s re-election bid by hosting a fundraiser for the first-term Republican.
The event for Christie, 50, will be held at the home of Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla Chan, said Sarah Feinberg, a Facebook spokeswoman. Zuckerberg, co-founder of the world’s largest social-networking service, lives in Palo Alto, California.
“Mark and Priscilla have worked closely with Governor Christie on education reform in the Newark school system,” Feinberg said in e-mail. “They admire his leadership on education reform and other issues and look forward to continuing their important work together on behalf of Newark’s school children.”
Zuckerberg, 28, who started his company in a college dorm room in 2004, is expanding his role beyond the day-to-day duties of running Facebook, which has more than 1 billion users.
In 2010, Zuckerberg unveiled plans to donate $100 million to assist schools in Newark, New Jersey’s most populous city. Newark schools, with about 37,000 students, have been under state control since 1995, said Barbara Morgan, a spokeswoman for Education Commissioner Christopher Cerf.
Zuckerberg is listed as “no preference” on voter rolls in his home county of Santa Clara, California, said Elma Rosas, a spokeswoman for the county’s Registrar of Voters. She said he voted in the 2008 and 2012 general elections.
In early 2011, Zuckerberg joined other technology executives to dine with President Barack Obama. That April, Zuckerberg hosted the president in a town-hall meeting at Facebook’s headquarters, appearing with Obama on stage as he fielded questions. Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg held one with Christie later that year.
Facebook formed a political action committee in September 2011. It listed $341,857 in itemized individual contributions from October through November 2012, according to the Federal Election Commission. Of that total, $231,757 came from Facebook employees, who each gave as much as $5,000.
The account disbursed $267,500 to U.S. Senate and House candidates from both parties running in November 2012, records show. Recipients included the campaigns for Republican Senators Orrin Hatch from Utah and Scott Brown from Massachusetts; Republican House Majority Leader Eric Cantor from Virginia; and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Representative Howard Berman, both Democrats from California.
Zuckerberg’s February fundraiser and support for Christie shows the governor’s appeal to people outside of New Jersey and his ability to garner support from non-Republican sources, said Mike DuHaime, a Christie adviser.
“Silicon Valley has not traditionally been a hotbed of Republican activity,” DuHaime said in an interview. “It illustrates how much support the governor has across the entire political spectrum and nation.”
The fundraiser was reported earlier by New York-based social news site Buzzfeed.
Christie is enjoying record approval ratings for his handling of Hurricane Sandy, which struck the East Coast on Oct. 29. He said on Nov. 26 that he will seek a second term this year to oversee the $36.9 billion job of rebuilding.
The governor raised $2.1 million for his re-election bid through December, according to campaign-finance reports. State Senator Barbara Buono, the only Democrat so far to declare her candidacy, raised $212,927.