Larry Lessig Launches Crowdfunded SuperPAC To Try To End SuperPACs

from the fighting-superpacs-with-superpacs dept

Larry Lessig is thinking big (as per usual) and taking a “moonshot.” Today he announced the launch of the MAYDAY Citizens’ SuperPAC, in which he’s hoping to crowdfund $1 million to help elect people to Congress who will help reform the political system to try to take money out of politics — basically a SuperPAC to end all SuperPACs. This project has an interesting twist on traditional crowdfunding: nothing will happen if the goal isn’t met, but if it is, then two interesting things will happen: a matching donation and a second round, seeking $5 million:

We’ve structured this as a series of matched-contingent goals. We’ve got to raise $1 million in 30 days; if we do, we’ll get that $1 million matched. Then we’ve got to raise $5 million in 30 days; if we do, we’ll get that $5 million matched as well. If both challenges are successful, then we’ll have the money we need to compete in 5 races in 2014. Based on those results, we’ll launch a (much much) bigger effort in 2016 — big enough to win.

The ultimate aim is to spend enough to win a majority in Congress committed to fundamental reform by 2016. We’ve spent the last year gaming out how much that would cost. I think it is feasible and possible — if we can take these first steps successfully now.

Lessig has put together a video explaining all this as well:

This whole thing is wildly ambitious, which means it has a high likelihood of failure — but if it succeeds, think of the impact it could have. If you’re an American citizen, you can contribute here and help see if this moonshot is possible.

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Comments on “Larry Lessig Launches Crowdfunded SuperPAC To Try To End SuperPACs”

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51 Comments
Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Not sure if you are paying attention, this is not a problem that can be solved with money.

He only needs enough to get word out and have people support him during election.

Once someone takes on the monumental task of outlining each Candidates track record and rhetoric in decent context, it will be much easier to change the direction of a money machine without having to compete with their war chest.

We may be in the super information age, but the only thing that seems to be super about it is the sheer amount of misleading or outright dishonest information drowning out the truth!

Rocco Maglio (profile) says:

Money out of politics

Lets start with the assumption that you can remove the money out of politics. Then the power will lie with big media corporations nbc, fox, nyt, etc. You will not be elected unless the media chooses to present you reasonably. Comcast (nbc) recently showed their power by purchasing the #2 cable service, there were few objections. If you are rich enough to buy a media outlet then you are allowed to promote your candidate without limit, if not you have a very limited voice.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Money out of politics

Never waste time with assumptions that will never be true.

You can never get money out of politics, both are intrinsic to each other for both good and bad reasons. The media factor is quickly becoming obsolete, the mainstay of political affiliation is far more social underpinning than media based.

The media will never get an infamous person elected no matter how much money they have. Despite the majority of people being stupid to a fault, the stupid is fairly well distributed across all ideologies. Which leaves the people that can still think for themselves to fight and hash out things and actually still have a chance to make a better outcome.

Anonymous Coward says:

The biggest problem is the Supreme Court, not congress

The biggest problem to removing money from politics isn’t congress, it’s the Supreme Court.

It’s the Supreme Court that overturned over a century of campaign finance and anti-corruption laws on political donations. Even if congress passes those laws or ones just like it all over again, the idiots on the court can just strike them down all over again.

That means only 1 of 2 solutions are possible.

1) Get a president who’s committed to stopping the influence of money in politics, and a senate that supports the same thing. Wait for enough openings on the Supreme court for the president to fill so that Citizen’s United and other such cases can be overturned.

or

2) Pass a constitutional amendment saying that money is not free speech, and congress can regulate how money is spent on elections however it wants.

Either solution would take many years, and large rather than slim majorities would be needed in the case of a constitutional amendment.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: The biggest problem is the Supreme Court, not congress

Supreme Court is the least of our problems.

They can elected and appointed by Executive and Legislative branches. Supreme’s can be impeached as well if they can be found to have tarnished the SCOTUS.

The root problem has been and will always be, Congress. It all starts and stops there. They can make the President Heal, they can raise and strike down any court in the land except SCOTUS.

Do you seeing them doing their job?
Or do you see them languish in near unmitigated corruption?

The very first thing we must do is rid ourselves of any Public official that has server more than 10 years… regardless of how awesome they are.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: The biggest problem is the Supreme Court, not congress

Sure some in congress (at the moment mostly Republicans) are taking advantage of more money in politics, but my point is even if we had a congress that was committed to removing money from politics it wouldn’t work, because courts could just overturn it as long as the bad supreme court precedents remain.

Also, while supreme court judges could be impeached, it’ll never happen for several reasons.

1) While technically anyone congress doesn’t like could be impeached and removed from office, that would look very much like an abuse of power and overreach on congress’ part. No serious politician would ever do it.

2) In order to get the votes to actually impeach a Supreme Court judge they’d need to have done some serious law breaking. And even then, partisan interests could keep a criminal on the court.

Look at Senator David Vitter of Louisiana, everyone knows he broke the law by illegally hiring a prostitute and having sex with her, yet zero public figures called for his resignation, because the governor of his state, who would pick his replacement, was a member of the other party.

So, while there’s a whole lot of people in congress who want more money to flow in our elections, it wouldn’t matter if things were reversed in congress. The courts would still strike all their reforms down.

JWW (profile) says:

If you want me to believe

If Mr. Lessig wants me to believe he’s sincere about getting corruption out of politics, then this PAC’s number one, overriding, absolute first priority HAS to be enacting a constitutional amendment limiting the terms that can be served in congress.

The problem that is driving all this money to be spent trying to acquire office is due to the fact that most of the time, once someone is in office they are in office for the rest of their lives. This is a huge corrupting force, more powerful IMHO than all this money being thrown about. In fact all the money in politics is a symptom of the lifelong political power and privilege that comes with congressional office nowadays.

Screw Citizens United and all the other campaign finance decisions of the Supreme Court, we NEED to get lifelong political office seekers out of permanent positions in Washington. We have needed to do this for a long time.

Limiting campaigns will not fix anything, sending those entrenched in power for decades at a time packing will.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: If you want me to believe

I agree with you.

#1. Term limits for Congress critters… The American people have proven they cannot govern themselves well enough to remove their own corrupt politicians.

#2. Remove all lifetime benefits from having served in public capacity. You should never EVER be able to retire from public service, EXCEPT those whom have fought and experience combat deployment.

#3. Any law Congress levies against the Citizenry, must first be applied to them by 1 year in advance, giving them sufficient time to rethink their overwhelming stupidity when it occurs.

These must all become Amendments.

Lurker Keith says:

Re: Re: If you want me to believe

Somewhat recently, I had the idea that instead of electing people to Congress, at least the House (the Senate has a different purpose than representation by population) should use a system similar to Jury Duty — compelled service via random drawing from voting registration. Except, the system would need to remove those who have served (I’ve been called for Jury Duty at least 3 times, & I know people who have NEVER been called) after a certain number of times called to serve.

This eliminates money from selecting winners, & gets the House back to representing the normal population, as it was originally intended to. It also puts normal people in office, which I thought was the point of the House. It would also make it difficult for industries to groom replacements in advance.

If we add transparency rules to lobbying efforts & the equivalent, it should straighten things out quite a bit.

This could also force the language Laws are written in to be simplified as to be understandable by the citizenry w/o assistance.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: If you want me to believe

You would, first of all, have a rash of unintentional lawbreaking by the people selected. Delete an email? Sorry, your emails are now public records and you just broke the law by destroying it.

Second, I would hate to see a budget passed by 435 people who have no interest in politics or budgets. It would be a mess.

Third, it would be a total crapshoot as to who gets in. The people selected might not hold the same views as the people they are supposed to represent. Although I suppose that with 435 members, the math says it’s very unlikely that a majority of those 435 would hold a view that’s not held by, at the very least, a large minority of the population.

BernardoVerda says:

Re: Re: Re:2 If you want me to believe

“You would, first of all, have a rash of unintentional lawbreaking by the people selected. Delete an email? Sorry, your emails are now public records and you just broke the law by destroying it.

Second, I would hate to see a budget passed by 435 people who have no interest in politics or budgets. It would be a mess.

Third, it would be a total crapshoot as to who gets in. The people selected might not hold the same views as the people they are supposed to represent. Although I suppose that with 435 members, the math says it’s very unlikely that a majority of those 435 would hold a view that’s not held by, at the very least, a large minority of the population.”

So… not much different than the situation at present, then?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: If you want me to believe

So I have to take a leave of absence or quit my job and relocate to DC for most of the year? Fuck that!

And what if I am some nut job Tea Bagger or Klansman or survivalist? That isn’t representative of the majority of the people in my Congressional district-though we do have such imbeciles amongst us.

Or worse yet, what if my wife was called to serve? She’s a hopeless do-gooder who’d vote to spend our country into bankruptcy (not unlike the current Bozo’s), ban red meat and double malt Scotch.

Sorry, back to the drawing board for you.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: If you want me to believe

Term limits for Congress critters

This will probably make the problem worse. When members of Congress know they’ll soon need another job, they have an increased incentive to help out the industries they’re supposed to be overseeing, so that they can continue to pay the bills after term limits kick them out of their current job. We already have enough of a problem with the revolving door. Term limits just make the door revolve faster.

Anonymous Coward says:

A good canary test will be when this gets national news coverage.

If there is no coverage, then they are scared and trying to hide this. This means it is possible, and the people only have to try.

If they over cover this, then they are scared and trying to make it seem like everyone did their job, and there is nothing left to do.

If they cover it just enough, that would be awesome to get the people to know about it.

I wonder if Fox can put away the Anti-Spring Break drum for a while, and CNN can interrupt their breaking news of Flight 370.

zip says:

1990's "Contract With America"?

Campaign finance reform was one of the many broken promises made by the then-historic Republican takeover of both the Senate and the House. As the story went, the Democrats were the party of corruption, and with their defeat, a whole new era of honest government would commence. Spearheaded by Newt Gingrich and Tom DeLay, Republican firebrands who would go on to become two of the most self-serving politicians in recent memory.

http://www.capitolhillblue.com/node/22411

The more recent turnovers in Congress resulted in more broken promises, indicating that even higher turnover rates don’t fix things.

Larry Lessig’s effort might be a noble cause, but if history is any guide, it’s naive to believe that the US Congress’s deeply-embedded corruption can ever be diminished, regardless of which people or party are in charge.

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