Who do the other superPACs have who comes close to him? 


I published my first piece on Medium — long, serious, an effort to answer carefully questions raised about the purpose and objective of the #MaydayPAC.

I LOVE THE PLATFORM. The technology gives readers the chance to comment (and correct — GRATEFUL for the discovers of tiny typos) at the paragraph level. Comments are short, but that forces real comments. The idea of the platform the platform really achieves — it is the beginning of a conversation with readers, much more seamlessly and effectively than the standard post+with+flamewar+in+comment+section pattern of blogs, etc. 

In theory, at least. I apologize to those who have written great comments so far. Some bug is blocking my ability to comment back (the replies are not being saved). My editor tells me they’re working on it. I’m hopeful they’ll get it fixed soon. 

[UPDATE: All fixed. Thanks Medium.]


I’m going to try to produce a weekly newsletter about the stuff I think most important/relevant/least widely shared in the domain of “money in politics.” 

The newsletter comes out once a week (Saturday morning). It will have three items only. No more than one will relate to stuff I’m involved with (and usually none will). The first one is below. You can subscribe below that: 

Good morning!

Today, I launch a weekly newsletter — SHORT, just three items each week, with NO collateral asks — about the ongoing battles to reduce the influence of money in politics. I will publish the email every Saturday morning (except for the times when I’m away with my family), and in it I will collect the stories from the week that I think are particularly interesting to those who care about this cause. I read everything I can about this issue, from many different sources. My hope with the newsletter is to share what I’ve found most interesting. I promise, no more than one of the three things published each week will be related to me, and rarely will I point to even one.

This is a totally free (and ccFree) OPT-IN list. You’re getting this today because you joined Rootstrikers. But you will only get it again if you subscribe here. And that subscription list will not be used for anything else — never to solicit, never shared, never added to any other campaign. The only thing this subscription will deliver is this once-a-week email — until you say “enough already.”

I hope you find it of interest!

“Could be the most important money-in-politics campaign of the year”

That’s what a New Yorker whose views about NY politics I find most compelling said about the potential candidacy of my friend, Zephyr Teachout, for Governor of New York. Governor Cuomo (D) has been a serious disappointment to reformers. He promised, and then sabotaged (in the view of many) legislation to change the way elections are funded in New York. Had that legislation passed, it would have been a model for the nation. That it failed convinced too many that insiders can’t fix themselves. Zephyr is a law professor at Fordham Law School, who organized for Howard Dean. She is easily the most impressive young (potential) candidate for anything I’ve seen anywhere. She’s brilliant, and incredibly politically savvy. And if enough push her, she may well challenge the Governor in the Democratic primary. I hope she does, because if she does, she would make money in (NY) politics the issue in this campaign season. Her speech to the Working Family Party Convention is here. There’s a website that’s trying to convince her to run. And contributions are being taken here. Nothing is certain, and she needs to be convinced there is enough grassroots support to make it make sense (#RunZephyrRun). At a minimum, this is a race to watch — because it just might turn out that this time around, Teddy (Roosevelt) is played by a woman.

The best tool for tracking THE MONEY behind THE POLITICIANS in THE STORY I’ve seen

Nick Rubin is a high school student. His father, a longtime friend and senior lawyer at Microsoft, pointed me to a plugin Nick was building to scan the page you’re reading in a browser, and highlight the names of Members of Congress. When you hover over the name, you see from whom the Member gets his or her money, what percentage of the Member’s money comes from small dollar contributions, and whether he or she has committed to fundamental reform (drawn from the site reform.to).  Easily the coolest plugin that I use, now available for free. You can get it at AllAreGreen.US. (The website concatenates the site’s great slogan: “Some are red. Some are blue. All are green.”)

A deep dive on Super PACs

I’ve written three books, gaggles of articles, gaggles^2 of essays, and a billion (or so) tweets about the problem with the way we fund campaigns in America today. But on the launch of our Mayday PAC, I was pushed by many to commit to writing a medium-length piece pulling the arguments together. I did. It is published, appropriately enough, on the cool new platform, Medium. You can read it here. (And if I were soliciting, it would be here I’d say something like “pledge if you can” but you see, I’m not doing that.)

That’s all for the week. If you’ve got stuff I should see, email it to ideas@lessig.org (if I use anything, I will always give credit where credit is due). And remember, you will only get this again if you subscribe here.

- Lessig

To subscribe click here.


Nick Rubin is a high school student. His father, a longtime friend and senior lawyer at Microsoft, pointed me to a plugin Nick was building to scan the page you’re reading in a browser, and highlight the names of Members of Congress. When you hover over the name, you see from whom the Member gets his or her money, what percentage of the Member’s money comes from small dollar contributions, and whether he or she has committed to fundamental reform (drawn from the site reform.to). 

Easily the coolest plugin that I use, now available for free. You can get it at AllAreGreen.US. (The website concatenates the site’s great slogan: “Some are red. Some are blue. All are green.”)


A headline in Roll Call about the #MaydayPAC left me, well, scratching my head: “Super PAC for Campaign Finance Reform Swallowed by Fat Cats.”

Remember, these “fat cats” are spending their money to reduce their own political influence. If we’re successful, their investment will have lessened their power to influence politics. Not to zero, of course. And likely not to the influence of “the average joe.” But certainly much much less than they have in this SuperPAC democracy. 

I talk about the nature of this sacrifice at the end of my essay for Medium

A billionaire who spends his or her money to reduce her own influence is giving us, the People, something enormously valuable: our democracy back. It’s not that we need to be grateful for that gift. But I do believe we should respect it. We need them to make this reform possible. They need us to understand its effect, even if we can never be certain of its motive: They will have less, so we can have more.


I spent my birthday walking with the incredible team behind the CA March for Democracy. Kai Newkirk from 99Rise organized this 480 mile trek from LA to Sacramento. He had walked with us in NH, and I was eager to see the meme of walking for reform spread. 

The day gave me lots of time to think through the most difficult decision to date about the #MaydayPAC: How we raise the next $5M.

For in truth, $5M is more than 5 times $1M. The challenge — and the risk — is much much greater. Many on the team are afraid that we will get part of the way, but because this is an all or nothing campaign, we’ll lose what we get. Some were pushing me to restructure the plan into a series of $1 million campaigns — 5 in all — so that if we get just $2M or $3M, we’ll still have at least that. 

I was a tough decision, and like every such decision, one I may well regret. But it felt there was an issue of integrity here — this is what we, or I, said we would do. So to resolve it — finally — I made this 2 minute video in the field where our walk ended (after a shower, and a couple calls with friends, just as the sun was going down, and with a supersized fly (representing dark money I think) added for free).

$5M or bust from lessig on Vimeo.

If you can, please pledge. Whether you can, please spread the word: Mayday.US.


What's so bad about a SuperPAC? (Or how I came to love the (money) bomb)

There are lot of great and serious questions out there about what we’re doing with the #MaydayPAC and why. Here’s a deep dive into the theory of why this, why now, and why 2016. 


2nd stage live NOW! #MaydayPAC to raise $5M by July 4 & make #MoneyinPolitics THE issue in 5 races. Please SHARE! http://thndr.it/1wqCv3b

2nd stage live NOW! #MaydayPAC to raise $5M by July 4 & make #MoneyinPolitics THE issue in 5 races. Please SHARE! http://thndr.it/1wqCv3b


I walk with Kai, and the March for Democracy, on my birthday — 20 miles or so through central CA in the sun (and stupidly, I forgot a hat), WHILE YOU join and spread the #MaydayPAC Thunderclap. One friend for every mile — 20 at least. 

It’s almost midnight. The car leaves at 5:30 to get to the starting point. Drop the zero, and you have my true age — and the true number of people you need to recruit to the Thunderclap


Tuesday’s my birthday.

Wednesday we launch Stage 2 of the #MaydayPAC challenge: $5M in 30 days.

Impossible I know. But we’ve done impossible before, and we can again — if you help!

So here’s the one birthday gift I’m asking for: Join our Thunderclap campaign

Thunderclap is an incredible tool built by a friend to coordinate social messaging. You set the message, and it will send your message to your friends and followers at the same time it sends the message of everyone else to all their followers. Think of it as a Superbowl ad for the Internet — but free! And they don’t keep any of your personal information, and certainly don’t keep the list of your friends!

So I know you’ve not yet had a chance to get me anything. That’s ok. Really. But here’s your chance: Join by June 3 so we can launch big on June 4.

And thanks for humoring some lame birthday humor. 


[tl;dr: Please join our Thunderclap for the launch of stage two of the #MaydayPAC: kickstarting $5M in 30 days.]

Big week, next week: 

Monday:  in San Luis Obispo for the CA Citizens Congress

Tuesday: (my birthday (my ideal gift share this with 200k?) walking with 99Rise in their March for Democracy

Wednesday: the launch of stage 2 of the MaydayPAC (where we will raise $5M in 30 days, after raising $1M in 13). 

Please join our Thunderclap to help spread the word. 


I’m excited and incredibly proud of my friend Zephyr Teachout for shouldering the enormous burden of standing up to a so-called “progressive” Governor who has been so terribly weak and ineffective in his push for reform.

I’ve known Zephyr for more than 15 years. She would be an incredible and amazing Governor. And, most importantly, she would be a fierce and unbending supporter of reform.

Cuomo’s behavior — especially towards people in this movement whom I respect as much as I respect anyone in this world — has been unworthy. It is time for Democrats to unite around reform. Removing a faux reformer would be an important first step. 


The “Daily Caller” (let’s call that DC for short, since the DC style is in its DNA) gave the #MaydayPAC about 350 words Sunday — not quite aimed at the truth, but then again, the truth is not part of the business model of modern media.

The piece says we’re “an attempt to prevent political action committees – except his – from influencing elections.” Not true. We’ve attacked “superPACs” — not political action committees. A SuperPAC is a PAC that can raise unlimited contributions (the source of the problem I’ve spent endless bits trying to explain). Political action committees are a flavor of democracy. 

The piece says we will match the >$1M (we’ve raised from 13K individuals with a median contribution of $50) with “a few huge contributions from ultra-wealthy supporters he refuses to name.” “Refuses”? Where is this “refusal”: When the match is announced, the supporters will be named. Every contributor (greater than $200) will be named. 

The piece rightly points out that I’m critical of a system in which our politicians spend endless time raising campaign funds from the tiniest fraction of the 1%. But it wasn’t clear to me: Does the DC like that system? Because DC certainly does. 

But the piece does convince me that at least some need a clearer argument to understand the virtue in “embracing the irony.”

We are using the system to change the system, because we believe the existing system destroys representative democracy (aka, the Republic). 

Some think there’s something wrong with using a system you believe is wrong to fix that wrong. 

But I wonder whether those people think it was wrong for people to organize whites to extend the franchise to blacks. Or whether it was wrong to organize men to extend the franchise to women. In both those case, I would have said the existing system was wrong. But in neither case would I have hesitated to use it to achieve a system I don’t believe is wrong. 

That’s what we’re doing. We didn’t create the system in which the nation outsources the funding of campaigns to the tiniest fraction of the 1% — and now, indirectly, to SuperPACs too. It has been grafted onto Madison’s Republic. But have no hesitation at all in using that system to  restore Madison’s Republic. That is what the #MaydayPAC hopes to do.  


I’m a Hachette author. Republic, Lost was published by them. But you might have read there’s some sort of spat between the publisher and Amazon. The result: the authors lose. (Here’s Hachette’s statement; Amazon has not said anything.) 

So, e.g., Amazon reports Republic, Lost will take 2-4 weeks to ship.

Barnes & Noble reports it will take 24 hours.

Or, you can download the ccFree version in about 2.4 seconds.

Time to become a more regular Barnes & Noble customer. That market power stuff can really go to a company’s head.



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