Crowdfunded Super PAC Aims to Change Money Influence in Elections, Starting with N.H.
Jim Rubens has, thus far, been overlooked in the New Hampshire Senate race, but that could change if the emerging crowdfunded PAC Mayday has anything to say about it.
Mayday’s goal is to end all super PACs (including themselves, according to their website). It has so far exceeded even its own expectations, by raising its first $1 million in just 13 days. The list of celebrity supporters includes Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak, and actors Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Jason Alexander.
The PAC aims at “fundamental reform” in the way campaigns are funded and will run independent campaigns in five handpicked races throughout the country during this election cycle. If successful the crowdfunders will widen their scope for the 2016 election.
The group favors “small donor public funding” of elections, which is a policy Rubens supports – and has taken heat for from his fellow Republicans. The group says that the only way to achieve reform is for Congress to be filled with a majority of people who support these reforms. They estimate that they will need to win 10 to 15 Senate races and 50 to 65 House races in the 2016 election in order to get the votes necessary to achieve their goals, which includes a constitutional review of the role super PACs play in elections.
“If we succeed in moving the dial on this issue significantly then we will have broken conventional wisdom in Washington,” Mayday Chairman Lawrence Lessig said. “Which is that this issue doesn’t matter.”
Lessig, who co-founded the organization and is also a Harvard Law School professor, explains that Scott Brown had actually supported the public funding of elections while serving as Massachusetts senator and that Mayday’s entry into the race is as much about asking Brown what has happened to that reform candidate as it is to enlighten people that there is a reform candidate in the race – and that candidate is Rubens. In a press release announcing the move, Mayday accuses Brown of embracing special interest funding and points out his failure to act in response to the Citizens United ruling, voting against the DISCLOSE Act.
Although they are critical of Brown, they will not entrench their ad campaign in “trashing” Brown, or any other candidate, which would likely turn off voters to the overall message of the group. Their aim is to say: “This is the only way politicians are going to pay attention to this issue – if you do something about it.”
“Voters are fed up to their eye teeth with career politicians who go to Washington to collect campaign cash rather than solving the nations' problems and serving the people they represent,” Rubens said in a statement regarding the endorsement. “Washington politics is corrupted to the bone by today's special interest dominated campaign funding system. It's why Washington can't control its addiction to spending, it's why the budget is infested with corporate welfare, it's why we have military pork even the Pentagon does not want.”
“Jim Rubens is, literally, the only candidate for the Senate in the Republican Party that’s openly endorsed changing the way campaigns are funded,” Lessig said. “We were eager to enter this race to talk about this issue.”
On his website Rubens has a nine-point “Political Reform Agenda,” which includes campaign finance reforms to a range of issues, including term limits, budget reform and holding a Constitutional Convention according to Article V of the Constitution
“Americans of all political stripes have had enough of systemic corruption,” said Mayday co-founder Mark McKinnon in a press release. “This is an opportunity for politicians in both parties to stand up and be counted, knowing that there is grassroots support for genuine heroes of reform. I hope Republican and Democratic candidates for Congress take advantage of this opportunity to inoculate themselves – and firmly position themselves as supporters of reform.”
McKinnon is a well-known Republican strategist who has worked with the likes of George W. Bush and John McCain. He is also a senior adviser for consulting firm Hill & Knowlton Strategies.
Under the leadership of Lessig and McKinnon, Mayday says it is also holding itself more accountable than any of the other super PACs operating throughout the country. They will report the names of all contributors above $200 to the Federal Election Commission and will not accept donations from groups that hide the identities of their funders.
“We started with these two races to be crystal clear – it doesn’t matter who you are, what your party is, or what powerful friends you have. If you are standing in the way of fundamental reform, if you are supporting what has become a fully corrupt system of money in politics, then you should watch your back,” Lessig said. “We will be announcing more races soon and you could be next.”
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