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.

Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

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    fogbugzd (profile), May 1st, 2014 @ 9:42am

    It sounds like he is channeling his inner Steven Colbert.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, May 1st, 2014 @ 10:21am

    Whaaa?

    Neither of the 2 links lead to anything that is really very informational. The link to mayone.us is just a signup for email.

    Until they publicly reveal their manifesto, I won't put much stock in this.

    Reform can be anything good or bad.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, May 1st, 2014 @ 10:25am

    As much as I like Mr. Lessig and his ideas, he'd better aim a little higher, say in the Billions, in order to gain enough warchest to beat the current paymasters. Remember, it takes upwards of $100,000,000 to elect a President, and over $10,000,000 to elect a senator. Larry has a ways to go.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, May 1st, 2014 @ 10:29am

      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!

       

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    Rocco Maglio (profile), May 1st, 2014 @ 10:26am

    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.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, May 1st, 2014 @ 10:38am

      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.

       

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      jupiterkansas (profile), May 1st, 2014 @ 11:00am

      Re: Money out of politics

      Might be easier to get media out of politics. Most campaign money is going to television ads anyway.

       

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    Anonymous Coward, May 1st, 2014 @ 10:33am

    and this is different from WolfPAC how (other than the 'match the crowdfund' aspect)?

     

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    Anonymous Coward, May 1st, 2014 @ 10:34am

    It is very encouraging to see Mr. Lessig finally channel his energy in a truly productive direction.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, May 1st, 2014 @ 10:35am

    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.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, May 1st, 2014 @ 10:43am

      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.

       

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        Anonymous Coward, May 1st, 2014 @ 12:28pm

        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.

         

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      ChurchHatesTucker (profile), May 1st, 2014 @ 11:23am

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

      Or 3) just pass an amendment saying corporations are not people and we don't know where you got that because you didn't explain it the first time.

       

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    Anonymous Coward, May 1st, 2014 @ 10:38am

    here's hoping it will be successful. the way money bends politicians and politics now is scandalous! i cannot understand how the court ruled in favour of what is happening unless, of course, that same commodity has gotten to the judges too!!

     

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    JWW (profile), May 1st, 2014 @ 10:43am

    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.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, May 1st, 2014 @ 10:47am

      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.

       

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        Anonymous Coward, May 1st, 2014 @ 11:24am

        Re: Re: If you want me to believe

        .

        Agree completely.

        And I would go a bit farther. To enforce more of the "Cincinatus Ethic" (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cincinnatus), I would limit -LIFETIME- public office service (Local,State and Federal) to a maximum of 20 years.

        .

         

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        Anonymous Coward, May 1st, 2014 @ 11:49am

        Re: Re: If you want me to believe

        I don't know how feasible it is, but Congress should work for minimum wage so they understand what the common people are dealing with.

         

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        Lurker Keith, May 1st, 2014 @ 3:03pm

        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.

         

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          Anonymous Coward, May 1st, 2014 @ 3:20pm

          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.

           

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            BernardoVerda (profile), May 2nd, 2014 @ 4:07pm

            Re: 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."


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

             

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          Anonymous Coward, May 1st, 2014 @ 7:18pm

          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.

           

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          Anonymous Anonymous Coward, May 1st, 2014 @ 9:14pm

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

          As others have pointed out, there are some holes in your suggestion.

          One thing you got right though. I too believe that it should be a prerequisite for candidacy that the individual nominated does not actually want the post.

           

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        Anonymous Coward, May 2nd, 2014 @ 10:35am

        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.

         

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      Anonymous Coward, May 1st, 2014 @ 6:38pm

      Re: If you want me to believe

      The opposite might also work - eliminate the revolving door by preventing those who've held high public office working nowhere outside the government sector.

       

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    Anonymous Coward, May 1st, 2014 @ 11:07am

    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.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, May 1st, 2014 @ 11:15am

      Re:

      Who is "they"? Campaign finance reform might reduce advertising dollars for the media, but it also increases their influence since they can still promote whichever candidates they like.

       

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    Anonymous Coward, May 1st, 2014 @ 11:13am

    Already over $100K...

     

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    Anonymous Coward, May 1st, 2014 @ 11:25am

    Lets hope he's more successful with this than he was raising money for Aaron Swartz defense.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, May 1st, 2014 @ 11:44am

    With regards to the proposals for term limits. Problem is that lawmakers need a certain amount of time in office to understand how to draft bills. Otherwise you end up like that situation in FL where a lawmaker tried to pass a bill written by ALEC

     

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    zip, May 1st, 2014 @ 11:49am

    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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      Anonymous Coward, May 1st, 2014 @ 4:52pm

      Re: 1990's "Contract With America"?

      Moar Liek CONTRACT ON AMERICA MIRITE?!
      In all seriousness, I will never forgive the Newtwit for killing off the Office of Technology Analysis

       

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    Coyne Tibbets (profile), May 1st, 2014 @ 7:02pm

    Fighting fire with fire?

    I understand the principle of fighting fire with fire...in firefighting. Burning the fuel in advance of an approaching fire line is very effective.

    I don't exactly see how that works here, though. Wouldn't we just wind up with a bigger fire?

     

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    jupiterkansas (profile), May 2nd, 2014 @ 9:01am

    Lessig AMA

    Here is Lessig's Reddit AMA to support the Kickstarter.

     

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