More and more outlets are covering the story of The Mayday PAC, and whenever important issues with tons of moving parts take over the newsstands (see: net neutrality, Terry Richardson, hardcore hallucinogenic drugs, etc.) we get to the bottom of it by interview the world’s foremost expert on everything: Google.
Bryce: Hey Google, it’s been way too long. I can’t even remember the last time we got a chance to chat.
Google: Would you like me to pull up your browsing history?
Bryce: Well let’s not go doing anything crazy like that; I’m still not exactly sure how incognito those Incognito Windows are. I did want to talk to you about this Mayday PAC that I keep hearing about, though. What is it exactly?
Google: "Mayday PAC is a crowd-funded political action committee."
"“[Mayday PAC] wants to change the corrupted system by which politicians now raise money for their campaigns. The irony is to get money out of politics, reformers must raise money of their own.”
Bryce: That explains the “Super PAC to end all Super PACs” branding I’ve seen everywhere. But why are these Super PACs bad again?
Google: "Super PACs...can raise unlimited funds from donors and spend on behalf of candidates. [They] proliferated after the controversial 2010 Citizens United v. FEC Supreme Court decision, which ruled that campaign contributions are a manifestation of free speech, protected under the First Amendment.”
Bryce: Oh right, the whole people are corporations thing. So who’s behind this whole operation?
Google: "Lawrence ‘Larry’ Lessig, an American academic and political activist. Lessig is director of the Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics at Harvard University and a Professor of Law at Harvard Law School..."
Bryce: That’s a fancy resume. What’s his endgame?
Google: "His ultimate goal is raising enough money to elect a House majority and 60 senators who will vote for 'fundamental reform' of the campaign finance system.” Lessig says, "The only thing the Mayday PAC is trying to do is get legislation passed to change the way elections are funded.”
Bryce: Yeah I’ve heard that whole campaign finance thing is pretty screwed up, so I can probably get behind this. How’s he doing so far?
Google: "Lessig announced in an online letter to supporters that Mayday had reached its goal of $6 million [in two months], through nearly 50,000 supporters. That money will be matched by a stable of wealthy donors—their identities haven’t yet been revealed—for a $12 million total.”
Bryce: A stable of wealthy, anonymous donors? Seems fishy. Any idea who they have behind the mystery curtain?
Google: "The PAC received large contributions from Silicon Valley entrepreneurs, including $150,000 from Reid Hoffman, co-founder of Linked-In; $150,000 from Peter Thiel, co-founder of PayPal; $250,000 from Chris Anderson, curator of TED; $100,000 from Brad Burnham, managing partner of Union Square Ventures; $100,000 from Fred Wilson, partner of Union Square Ventures and his wife, Joanne Wilson, angel investor, blogger, and co-founder of Women’s Entrepreneurial Festival; $250,000 from Vin Ryan, founder of Schooner Capital; and $100,000 from David Milner."
Bryce: Sounds like a bunch of hippies and commies, if you ask me. But if I did my math right, that’s still a lot of money from small-donation donors right? Is that common?
Google: "Just 196 people (that’s 0.000063 percent of the country) donated 80 percent of the total Super PAC money raised in 2012.”
Bryce: Lessig might be onto something then! But $12 million is nothing compared to the likes of American Crossroads, who are spending hundreds of millions of dollars a year. How is Lessig going to actually do anything of real value with $12 million dollars?
Google: “The Mayday PAC aims to make a relatively small amount go a long way by targeting five House races this year, in support of candidates who share its goal of ‘fundamentally chang[ing] how campaigns are funded.' The idea is to use those races to demonstrate that reducing the influence of big money in politics is a voting issue for many Americans—something many Beltway pundits, to Lessig’s frustration, don’t believe.”
Bryce: Sounds like a gamble, but at this point, what else can we do to stop people like the Koch's from buying elections?
Google: Click here to donate to Mayday PAC.
Bryce: There’s that dry wit I love so much… But because campaign finance reform is about as sexy as net neutrality. Can you at least give me a realistic but motivating, handy-dandy video explaining this all over again to close us out?
Bryce: Right on! Now open Incognito Window…