Most Americans believe big money donors have too much influence over politics, leading to a dysfunctional government and political decisions that benefit the few, not the many. Recent Supreme Court decisions, like Citizens United, have made the problem worse by ending limits on donations, and further increasing the influence of wealthy donors, large corporations and Super PACs.
After meeting its initial goal of crowdfunding $1 million two weeks ahead of schedule, the Mayday PAC – established by Harvard Law Professor and campaign finance reformer Professor Lawrence Lessig and Republican strategist Mark McKinnon – launched the next phase of its effort by setting a new, ambitious fundraising goal and releasing the names of its matching donors. The Super PAC, whose mission is to lessen the influence of big money in politics by targeting congressional candidates opposed to campaign finance reform, is now seeking to raise $5 million through online crowd-funding over the next 30 days. Mayday PAC aims to use the money it raises to pilot a strategy to win a Congress committed to fundamental reform by 2016.
“The influence of big money over our political process is worse than it’s ever been, and it’s evident from the complete dysfunction in Washington,” said Professor Lawrence Lessig. “Mayday PAC’s success will prove that there are enough people willing to invest in sending Congress the message that it is time for fundamental campaign finance reform.” Mark McKinnon adds, “We want a government that works for all of us, not simply the wealthy who bankroll campaign contributions and Super PACs.”
This new phase of the PAC’s fundraising campaign leverages the building momentum demonstrated by it surpassing its initial goal of raising $1 million in 13 days. That goal was matched by a wide range of technology and Internet innovators, including: Reid Hoffman, co-founder of LinkedIn; Peter Thiel, co-founder of PayPal; Chris Anderson, curator of TED; Brad Burnham, managing partner of Union Square Ventures (funders of Twitter, Kickstarter, and Tumblr among many other projects); Fred Wilson, partner of Union Square Ventures; Joanne Wilson, angel investor, blogger, and co-founder of Women’s Entrepreneurial Festival; and Vin Ryan, founder of Schooner Capital.
David Milner, CEO of NuGen Capitol, a new energy venture fund, pledged to match the amount raised above the $1 million in the initial drive.
If successful, Mayday PAC would go from inception to a war chest of over $12 million in just 60 days. That money will then fund campaigns in five congressional districts yet to be announced, targeting candidates that oppose campaign finance reform. It is part of a two election cycle plan to hold candidates accountable to voters on the issue of money in politics and win a Congress committed to enacting campaign finance reform by 2016. If successful in the 2014 cycle, the effort would be expanded for the 2016 elections.
This experimental new effort will show that regular people are deeply motivated to demand changes that loosen the grip of big money on politics and government. People “commit” by pledging a contribution anywhere between $5 and $10,000, and their commitment is collected only if the Mayday PAC reaches its fundraising target by its deadline.
Like other Super PACs, Mayday PAC will spend its money independently of any political candidate. Unlike other Super PACs, the names of all contributors above $200 will be reported to the FEC. It will also list the names of large contributors prominently on its website, and will not accept anonymous contributions from groups that hide the identities of their funders.