Silicon Valley's leaders usually do a good job finding things to agree on (regulations: bad; disruption: good; workplace diversity: ¯\_(ツ)_/¯). But when it comes to campaign finance reform, the tech industry can't make up its damn mind. While Bay Area billionaires are financing super PACs focused on getting money out of politics, they're simultaneously spending millions on their favorite candidates and parties.
When looking at the donations made by tech billionaires, two trends emerge. The first: donations to super PACs that are fighting to reform the campaign finance system. The second: donations to a group called Virginia Progress PAC, which is supporting Democratic Sen. Mark Warner's reelection bid. The group has spent at least has spent $1.4 million in TV ads against Ed Gillespie, Warner's Republican opponent.
According to t he National Journal, some donors in Silicon Valley have shunned the voguish move towards supporting campaign finance reform. Instead, they just shower candidates with cash the old fashioned way.
Curiously, Benioff donated $15,000 to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee this cycle, along with $25,900 to the National Republican Congressional Committee. He also donated $32,400 to the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee this cycle.
But tech's top donors are much more likely want to have it both ways.
[Reid] Hoffman, the CEO of LinkedIn, donated $150,000 to Mayday PAC—a super PAC founded by a Harvard law professor Lawrence Lessig that is ironically working to get money out of politics. He also donated $32,400 to the Democratic National Committee's PAC.
Peter Thiel, much like Hoffman, likes to back candidates while calling for campaign finance reform. However, in a separate piece from the National Journal, Thiel at least admits that he's winging the whole political donor thing:
As it happens, I'm not the only attendee puzzled by a staunch libertarian—a man who gave a Ron Paul-promoting super PAC $2.6 million in 2012—investing in campaign finance reform. A filmmaker who's shooting a documentary about money in politics asks Thiel why he donated to MayDay.
Here, in part, is Thiel's answer, delivered in his usual halting, guttural fashion: "Well, I, um, I always have this somewhat schizophrenic view on what to do about politics. I think it's very important, and then I think it's very broken ... so I always go back and forth on: Is it worth trying to fix things? Should we just ignore it?"
So what does the industry really want to see happen? Their donations are pretty revealing: the National Journal reports that tech tycoons have donated $23.6 million to federal campaigns thus far in this election cycle (with nearly half of that going to Democrats). And Lessig's campaign to eviscerate dark money? That's only raised $10.6 million, total.