Lawrence Lessig’s Mayday.us just raised a lot of money…to help get the money out of politics by campaigning to elect five politicians who will enact campaign finance reform. This morning the Super PAC hit its $5 million grassroots fundraising goal thanks to 47,000 supporters, which will be matched by $5 million in donations from wealthy tech luminaries. Combined with the $1 million it crowdfunded earlier this year that was matched by Peter Thiel, Reid Hoffman, TED’s Chris Anderson, and Union Square Ventures’ Fred Wilson and Brad Burnham brings Mayday to it full $12 million funding goal before this year’s mid-term elections.
Harvard Law Professor Lessig’s ability to raise large sums from both wealthy tech luminaries and the general public shows broad support for making elected officials less beholden to big money campaign donors. People can still donate here.
[Correction: While the crowdfunded project resembles a Kickstarter, it doesn't use that platform to take donations. In some ways that makes the amount raised even more impressive. Mayday has now raised the $12 million it wanted for this year, so it won't be pushing for more donations soon.]
In a Letter To Everyone upon reaching the goal, Lessig wrote “The pundits say ‘America doesn’t care about this issue.’ This is America caring. And this is America demanding something more.”
CTO Brian Boyko followed this up with a We Did It message explaining next steps, noting “Now we need to think beyond simple fundraising, and start thinking about how to get the most out of not only the money we’ve collected but more importantly the great community we’ve built.”
Lessig told TechCrunch this week that while his group pushed for the ambitious $5 million crowdfunding goal in one month because “the urgency is to be able to pick the districts and begin the campaign. (Plus I am a bit of a drama queen).” There wasn’t time to waste.
He framed the campaign finance issue as a problem for the tech industry because corrupt politicians threaten innovation and a fair Internet. “We have no protection for network neutrality because of the enormous influence of cable company’s money in the political system…If NN is your issue, then this is why you should see that politic$ is your issue too” Lessig says.
With the “Super PAC to end all Super PACs” now funded with the $12 million it wants, if it successfully gets candidates elected in its 2014 pilot campaign it plans to raise orders of magnitude more money to elect an an more pro-campaign finance reform congress in 2016, enact reforms in 2017, and defend them in 2018.