Rep. Mike Garcia on the campaign trailPhoto: Myung J. Chun (Getty Images)
While it’s normal for prominent business people to donate to both sides of the political aisle—so that whoever wins an election they can call in some favours—as the Republican Party lurches further to the right, some of the candidates being supported are deserving of a bit more scrutiny than usual.
As Axios reports, the race for a US House seat in California’s 27th District—part of the city of Los Angeles—is expected to go down to the wire on Tuesday, after the 2020 election saw Rep. Mike Garcia win by just 333 votes. His rival this week (as it was in 2020) is Democrat Christy Smith, and to help the incumbent over the line, three wealthy donors have handed Garcia $50,000.
One of those three donors is Activision CEO Bobby Kotick, who runs a company that has employed a Bush-era torture apologist and a Trump administration “bully.”
“No other gaming executive has made a campaign contribution close to that size this cycle,” the Axios report clarifies, in case you wondering about the scale and context of that donation. While $50,000 is the legal limit for donations from an individual, Kotick has used workarounds to donate much larger sums to Republican candidates in the past. In March, a spokesperson for the Activision CEO said he “has given almost the same amount to Democrats and Republicans over the past five years.”
Garcia’s campaign, and Kotick’s support of it, deserve extra scrutiny. Like so much of the Republican party in 2022, he’s not just a conservative guy: Garcia, a MAGA devotee, was one of 139 representatives who, in January 2021, even after witnessing the violence at the Capitol on January 6, voted to object to the Presidential Electoral College results from two states. In effect, he was protesting the democratic election of President Joe Biden, and giving what has been described as his “tacit support” to an insurrection.
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I know that nearly two years of watching the Republican Party slowly slide into a neo-fascist abyss has taken some of the sting out of this, but just take a second to note the following for the record: That the CEO of Activision Blizzard has spent $50,000 supporting a man who opposed Trump’s impeachment for his role on January 6, has “pursued draconian curbs to women’s reproductive health and freedoms,” and thinks the FBI’s investigation of former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago property was, “Literally tyranny of a majority right now that is acting more like a Third Reich.”
Kotick’s tenure as CEO has been marred by historic allegations of abuse and sexual harassment, which have led to major lawsuits and government investigations into conduct across several of the company’s studios.
UPDATE 12:59am, November 8: Asked for comment, an Activision representative tells Kotaku:
Mr. Kotick’s contributions are focused on candidates and causes primarily in support of veterans issues and specifically veterans employment. Mike Garcia is a decorated Navy pilot and a strong friend of veterans’ issues, who most recently introduced the bipartisan Military Spouse Licensing Relief Act of 2021. Mr. Kotick’s giving and that of the Call of Duty Foundation, which he co-chairs, is made to further the goal of ensuring all veterans have employment opportunities that reflect the sacrifices they make through their service. Mr. Kotick has, over the past five years, contributed roughly the same amount to Democrats and Republicans.