Dark money has been plaguing politics even since the Supreme Court's Citizens United decision. The subsequent Super PACs, fueled by shadowy donations from millionaires and billionaires, have brought unwelcome influence into elections and made political parties more polarized. And Silicon Valley's elite know just how to fix the problem: pouring millions into their own super PACs.
The latest tech heavyweight to take on the Valley's favorite political pet issue is Jim Greer, co-founder of gaming network Kongregate. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, Greer says politics "is to some degree a game—the most important game there is," and he is playing the game with a tech-funded super PAC to battle other corporate-funded super PACs:
This summer, the Noe Valley resident tried to do just that by co-founding CounterPAC, a super political action committee that urges candidates against taking money from unidentified donors, known in the trade as "dark money." It is the latest in a series of super PACs that aims to clean up the way super PACs operate.
With less than $5 million to spend in this fall's midterm races, CounterPAC - in fail-fast tech fashion - is testing out its ideas on Senate races in Alaska and Georgia and a congressional race in West Virginia, with more to follow.
All this sounds similar to Lawrence Lessig's Mayday PAC. Like CounterPAC, the Harvard Law professor's PAC has raised $7.8 million from the likes of Sean Parker, Peter Thiel, and Reid Hoffman to take on dark money in politics.
Both crusaders are making the dubious argument that financing can save us from special interest financiers. The major difference between the two, however, is that Lessig is a public intellectual with a history of dealing with campaign finance reform. Greer, on the other hand, is the kind of guy who "donated to both President Obama and GOP Sen. John McCain's presidential campaigns."
Photo: Joi Ito