Tech moguls raise cash to fight Washington’s ‘big money problem’; “Until we fix the root problem – the big money problem – we’re going to keep dealing with attack after attack on a free, open and innovative Internet”

Updated: Tuesday June 24, 2014 MYT 10:11:41 AM

Tech moguls raise cash to fight Washington’s ‘big money problem’

Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak has joined a Super Political Action Committee (PAC) called Mayday which will raise big money in order to fight the problem of big money in American politics characterised by powerful lobbies buying influence through funding political campaigns by candidates – AFP Photo.

SAN FRANCISCO: A group of influential Internet moguls aim to fix what they refer to as the “big money problem” in Washington politics by, well, raising cash.

Forming a Super Political Action Committee (PAC) called Mayday, the executives hope to raise US$12mil by the mid-term elections in November in hopes of supporting candidates who are committed to changing how elections are financed.

Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak joined the campaign late last week, alongside Union Square Ventures’ Fred Wilson; Paypal co-founder and libertarian activist Peter Thiel; and LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffmann.

Their approach – using big money to fight big money – may seem odd, but the organisers note on the campaign website that they “embrace the irony.”

“You have to work with the system you’ve got,” said Harvard law professor Lawrence Lessig, who along with Republican strategist Mark McKinnon came up with the idea to form a Super PAC.

“I don’t think it makes sense to back out to play the game.”

The organisers plan to use the funds to support five political candidates who will push for campaign finance reform. Lessig said he is considering both Democrats and Republicans to ensure the effort crosses party lines.

As a Super PAC, Mayday can raise unlimited amounts of money to bankroll political campaigns or causes so long as it operates independently of the candidates they support.

The organisers have called Mayday “the Super PAC to end all Super PACs”

Lessig, a founding board member of Creative Commons and former board member of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, told Reuters the objective is to find a way to change the way that elections are funded. In its first two weeks, the imitative garnered US$1mil from grassroots donations.

In addition, Thiel and Hoffmann, venture capitalists Brad Burnham and Fred andJoanne Wilson, and Chris Anderson, organiser of the TED conference, agreed to donate US$1mil apiece. Lessig hopes to raise an additional US$5mil by July 4.

If successful, Mayday will launch a much larger campaign in 2016 to reverse laws that have granted undue political influence to corporations.

According to Lessig, the goals for the campaign are “narrow.” Mayday is not a veiled effort to advance the tech agenda, he repeatedly stressed.

“If we’re successful, some of our donors will have less influence than they do now, personally and through their corporations,” he added. “They are spending money to reduce their political influence.”

This wouldn’t be the first attempt to curb the explosion of outside spending. A similar effort, dubbed Soros’ Friends of Democracy, is being run by Jonathan Soros, son of billionaire financier George Soros.

“Until we fix the root problem – the big money problem – we’re going to keep dealing with attack after attack on a free, open and innovative Internet,” Wozniak said in a video to promote the Mayday campaign. – Reuters



About bambooinnovator
KB Kee is the Managing Editor of the Moat Report Asia (, a research service focused exclusively on highlighting undervalued wide-moat businesses in Asia; subscribers from North America, Europe, the Oceania and Asia include professional value investors with over $20 billion in asset under management in equities, some of the world’s biggest secretive global hedge fund giants, and savvy private individual investors who are lifelong learners in the art of value investing. KB has been rooted in the principles of value investing for over a decade as an analyst in Asian capital markets. He was head of research and fund manager at a Singapore-based value investment firm. As a member of the investment committee, he helped the firm’s Asia-focused equity funds significantly outperform the benchmark index. He was previously the portfolio manager for Asia-Pacific equities at Korea’s largest mutual fund company. KB has trained CEOs, entrepreneurs, CFOs, management executives in business strategy, value investing, macroeconomic and industry trends, and detecting accounting frauds in Singapore, HK and China. KB was a faculty (accounting) at SMU teaching accounting courses. KB is currently the Chief Investment Officer at an ASX-listed investment holdings company since September 2015, helping to manage the listed Asian equities investments in the Hidden Champions Fund. Disclaimer: This article is for discussion purposes only and does not constitute an offer, recommendation or solicitation to buy or sell any investments, securities, futures or options. All articles in the website reflect the personal opinions of the writer.

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