The Silicon Valley Giant Bankrolling Devin Nunes

Source: Daily Beast | February 12, 2018 | Lachlan Markay, Sam Stein

Top executives at Oracle threw money to the controversial congressman just weeks after hiring a similarly controversial Nunes ally.

Weeks after they hired a controversial former Trump national security aide with ties to House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-CA), top executives at the tech company Oracle made substantial donations to Nunes’ 2018 re-election campaign.

The donations, which totalled nearly $35,000 came from five executives, several of whom gave so much that they surpassed the legal limit and had to be refunded. What made the donations stand out, however, was not the size of them—$35,000 was a relatively small amount considering the more than $1.2 million that Nunes has raised so far this cycle. It was the timing of the giving.

Ezra Cohen-Watnick, who worked as a top White House intelligence aide linked to former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, joined Oracle just weeks before its executives began writing checks to Nunes. Cohen-Watnick had arrived at the company under a cloud of controversy. During his time in the administration, he had been identified as having provided Nunes with reports that showed former National Security Adviser Susan Rice had requested the unmasking of several Trump aides listed in classified documents. That disclosure resulted in an ethics investigation into Nunes, who was eventually cleared of any wrongdoing.

The “unmasking” scandal turned out to be vastly overstated. And it raised additional questions about Cohen-Watnick’s qualifications for the job. He ultimately was let go from the administration in August as part of a staff cleansing by Flynn’s successor, National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster.

News that Oracle had hired Cohen-Watnick in its Washington DC office came in September. In early and mid-October, Oracle’s top officials began giving to Nunes. Edward Lloyd Screven, the company’s chief corporate architect, wrote two checks to the congressman for $2,700 each that month. On October 16, Kenneth Glueck, a senior vice president, wrote two checks to Nunes for $2,700 each. That same day, Safra Catz, Oracle’s president, wrote a check to Nunes for $2,500. In late November, she wrote three more worth $5,200 (she was later refunded $2,500). Mark Hurd, CEO, would donate $5,400 in late November as well. So too would Oracle’s billionaire chairman and CTO Larry Ellison. He had $2,700 of his $8,100 in contributions refunded.

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