Last month, in a bold attempt to fix out-of-control campaign financing, corruption activist Lawrence Lessig announced an experiment to raise enough money by 2016 to install a majority in Congress that is committed to comprehensive reform. On May 1, that experiment went live, raising over $200,000 in less than 24 hours. That is almost a quarter of the project’s first goal of $1 million, putting it on track to meet the target in less than a week’s time.
What is so remarkable is that the site was built almost entirely by volunteers and zero dollars were spent promoting it. This means that the word is spreading entirely through social media, lending the Super PAC more credibility as a true grassroots movement. To maintain that credibility, Lessig also promises that no dollars will go toward overhead or consulting fees and that instead, all funds will go toward winning elections.
Once each target is reached, Lessig promises to have the amount matched by wealthy donors in order to amplify the dollars contributed by ordinary citizens. When asked if he could reveal who those donors were in a Reddit IamA, Lessig responded, “Not until they’ve done it. All will be transparent.”
“Yes, we want to spend big money to end the influence of big money. Ironic, I get it, but embrace the irony,” Lessig says in the video introduction.
In attempt to mitigate further criticism, Lessig argues that a Super PAC based on the contributions of millions of Americans will be more effective than one that is run by a handful of billionaires.
“Our democracy is held hostage by the funders of campaigns,” explains Lessig, “we are going to pay the ransom, and get it back.”
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