Fighting Fire With Fire: Super PAC Raises Money to Reform Campaign Finance

They're calling it the super PAC to end all super PACs.
Jun 30, 2014·
Isabel Weisz is an editorial intern for summer 2014. She is an environmental analysis & policy major at Pitzer College and is originally from Santa Cruz, Calif.

Celebrating the Fourth of July typically means we fire up the barbecue, shoot off fireworks, and throw a big party for America. This year, in the name of truly celebrating and preserving our precious democracy, some of the country's leading minds and celebrities are asking Americans to get excited about campaign finance reform.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt, popular celebrity and host of HITRECORD ON TV (which airs on our sister station, Pivot), is calling on fans to donate to a Kickstarter campaign about political reform called the Mayday PAC. JGL is a big believer in intellectual property rights and individual creativity and thinks that right now our government is getting in the way of those things.

That's why he’s supporting Lawrence Lessig’s Mayday PAC.

According to Lessig, a Harvard Law scholar, our government is broken because of the money in politics and its sources. Congress raises money from the top 1 percent, so that top 1 percent in turn has all the power to influence Congress. If Congress is spending time chasing big-money donations, that means smaller causes, or individuals like you or me, aren’t being heard.

This isn't an unfamiliar problem to those of us who follow politics closely, but Lessig's approach is new, and he's driving it forward as a nonpartisan movement.

A PAC, or political action committee, pools donations and funds campaigns. A super PAC, just like the name implies, brings this to a new level; unlimited sums of money are donated and then spent to advocate for or against political candidates. Lessig’s Mayday PAC is crowdsourcing donations in an attempt to revamp the system and change the way campaigns and elections are funded.

Mayday is also dubbing itself the Internet's Super PAC, ready to defend the Internet from "a steady stream of threats and challenges to a free and open Internet," according to the site. Those threats include net neutrality, SOPA and PIPA, and other regulatory issues.

On Tuesday at 5:30 p.m. (ET), Lessig is holding an AMA on Reddit, where he'll answer questions about the political group. By Friday, we’ll see if the MayDay PAC hits its $5 million goal and is on track to end all super PACs with this new super PAC.

Here’s the timeline. The goal is to raise $5 million by July 5. The MayDay PAC aims to get campaign finance reform–minded candidates elected in 2016 and then help them get fundamental reforms passed. If the MayDay PAC succeeds, it hopes to have big money and corporate influence out of politics by 2018—and we might need to rename that date America's New Independence Day.