The Los Altos Shrink Taking Over Washington

Karla Jurvetson
Photo by Randy Vazquez/MediaNews Group/The Mercury News via Getty Images
Theodore Schleifer
September 21, 2021

About a month ago, Chuck Schumer was on the phone with the political group Voices for Progress, explaining to some donors and party activists the bind that Democrats like him were in when it came to passing a new voting-rights law. Things are hard, was his gist. Give me time. 

There was one person on the line, though, who was not the ordinary rabble-rouser, and who was particularly impatient with Democrats’ lackadaisical timeline for getting it done. And so when Schumer opened the conference call for questions, a little-known psychiatrist named Karla Jurvetson forcefully made her case to the Senate Majority Leader, expounding all of the reasons that democracy itself might be at stake if they didn’t move more quickly, according to four people familiar with the call, which was supposed to be kept tightly under wraps.

Jurvetson, despite being one of the party’s biggest donors and the financial muscle behind the Democratic push on voting rights, has closely guarded her privacy. Few regular people knew her name until she was revealed as the dominant $15 million funder of a super PAC that tried to inject life into Elizabeth Warren’s flagging campaign in February 2020. In the heat of the primary battle, the donation was caustically criticized by the Bernie left as a betrayal of Warren’s pledge to abstain from big money fundraising. Warren, who Jurvetson introduced at a fundraiser at her home in 2018, would later refer to her benefactor obliquely as a “stunningly generous woman.”