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Policy


Dozens of wealthy techies have given $10,000 or more to Harvard Law professor Larry Lessig’s latest effort to get money out of politics. Lessig’s Mayday PAC released information about its largest donors late Tuesday night, fulfilling a pledge to release donor information more quickly than other similar groups.

Among the largest donors: Entrepreneur Sean Parker, who chipped in $500,000 for the effort.

Parker has been on a good-government kick recently, also bankrolling the civic engagement startup Brigade, which is going to release some sort of social network for the politically active.

TED curator Chris Anderson, Schooner Capital founder Vincent Ryan and former Stride Rite President Arnold Hiatt have each given the PAC $250,000.

Last month, Lessig managed to convince 60,000 or so people to give him a combined $7.8 million for the PAC, which will fund a handful of candidates who pledge to work to change campaign finance laws to prevent corporations and wealthy donors (like, um, the people giving money to Lessig’s PAC) from having an outsize influence on politicians.

A similar tech-funded PAC, called Counter PAC, launched last week and is trying to convince candidates to take a pledge to avoid taking so-called “dark money” from undisclosed donors or pay a penalty by donating half the funds to charity.

The two PACs share several of the same board members — including Lessig; co-founder Jim Greer, founder of game platform Kongregate; and Mark McKinnon, a longtime Republican campaign strategist. The PAC hasn’t released details about its donors yet (and has yet to file its paperwork with the Federal Election Commission).

Ironically, Lessig’s PAC didn’t release all of the information for people giving $200 or more as it had originally said it would, as the Sunlight Foundation noted Wednesday.

In a blog post, Lessig explained that “a volunteer” raised concerns that releasing the names of all of those people violated the PAC’s privacy policy. (Even though all of that information is already made public in FEC reports).

Consequently, the PAC isn’t releasing the names of people who gave more than $200 but less than $10,000. “Our privacy commitment limited the ability for us to release those names. That commitment is not something I had the power unilaterally to change,” Lessig explained.

Mayday officials have pledged to update their large donor page every two weeks through Election Day in November. Otherwise, the information would only be made available in mid-October, when the next round of filings are due.

Among the top donors:

  • Peter Thiel, Paypal co-founder — $150,000
  • Fred and Joanne Wilson, Union Square Ventures — $100,000
  • Ian Simmons, social investor — $100,000
  • David Milner, venture capitalist — $100,000
  • Reid Hoffman, LinkedIn co-founder — $150,000
  • Matt and Cindy Cutts, Google engineer — $100,000
  • Brad Burnham, Union Square Ventures, — $100,000
  • William Von Muefflin, Cantillon Capital Management — $100,000
  • Shawn Byers, wife of Kleiner Perkins VC Brook Byers — $50,000
  • Jonathan Soros, son of billionaire George and founder of a similar PAC, Friends of Democracy — $10,000

Among the donors who didn’t make Mayday’s disclosure list: Mickey Madden, bassist for the band Maroon 5, who has given $5,500 so far, according to Mayday PAC’s last FEC disclosure form.



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