Sunday, October 12, 2014

The New Yorker profiles professor hoping to create super PAC to end all super PACs

In 'Embrace the Irony,' The New Yorker's Evan Osnos relates Professor Lawrence Lessig's energetic effort to reform post-Citizen United campaign finance through MaydayPAC, a superPAC that funds candidates who support overhauling -- or destroying -- the status quo. This fascinating read begins:

Last spring, Lawrence Lessig, a fifty-three-year-old Harvard legal theorist who opposes the influence of money in politics, launched a counterintuitive experiment: the MaydayPAC, a political-action committee that would spend millions of dollars in an attempt to elect congressional candidates who are intent on passing campaign-finance reform—and to defeat those who are not. It was a super PAC designed to drive its own species into extinction. Lessig adopted the motto “Embrace the irony.”


Others had tried pouring money into politics in order to end the pouring of money into politics, but never on the scale that Lessig wanted. In 2012, Jonathan Soros, a son of George Soros, the billionaire and liberal donor, raised and spent $2.7 million to help nine candidates committed to campaign-finance reform. Lessig and his co-founder, the Republican consultant Mark McKinnon, planned to spend more than four times that amount in the six months leading up to midterm elections, on November 4th. If their efforts succeeded, they aimed to raise hundreds of millions of dollars on as many as eighty races in the 2016 election. Lessig believed that the campaign-finance system needed the political equivalent of an “atomic bomb,” he told me. Change would become impossible, he said, “unless we blow it up now and we find some way to make it so that these bones don’t set.”

Election Law, First Amendment | Permalink


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