Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg is catching flack for his blossoming friendship with New Jersey's Republican Gov. Chris Christie from abortion-rights activists, who staged a protest in front of Zuckerberg's Palo Alto home Wednesday evening.
The event was held to rebuke Palo Alto's young billionaire for his decision to host a fundraiser for Christie, a rising star in the Republican party who has been making national waves for his aggressive stances toward public-sector unions and for his vetoes of Democratic bills to support family planning (he had vetoed a similar bill in 2010).
The protest, organized by progressive group CREDO, singled out Christie for his recent veto of a bill that would have restored $7.5 million to New Jersey's Planned Parenthood clinics. CREDO also launched a petition calling for Zuckerberg to "Unfriend the anti-woman Republican Governor Chris Christie and match the money raised at your Palo Alto fundraiser dollar-for-dollar with a contribution for Planned Parenthood."
"Over 58 percent of Facebook users are women, and Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg wants to use the billions he's made off them to fund the national political career of a guy who defunded Planned Parenthood and shut down six women's health clinics in his state?" CREDO's Political Director, Becky Bond asked in a prepared statement. "Zuckerberg should unfriend Chris Christie and stop funding the Republican war on women."
Zuckerberg's endorsement and the protest it incited further underscores Christie's swelling national profile and complex network of foes and allies. The famously gregarious and unapologetic politician was elected governor in 2009 and has made many friends and enemies by battling public-sector unions, vetoing pro-choice legislation and instituting performance bonuses for New Jersey teachers. He also drew scorn from some in his own party for praising President Barack Obama's response to Hurricane Sandy just days before the November 2012 election -- praise that some pointed to as one of the factors that helped Obama win re-election.
Zuckerberg's endorsement of Christie isn't his first venture into raising money for New Jersey causes. The Facebook founder had also donated $100 million to Newark, N.J., schools in 2010.