Friday, November 16, 2012

Group to Push for Campaign Finance Reform

Received this press release this morning:
New York Tech Leaders Call on Gov. Cuomo for Campaign Finance Reform

NEW YORK -- A group of leaders in New York’s growing technology industry released a letter to Governor Cuomo declaring their support for campaign finance reform and public financing of elections. The open and transparent culture of the internet, they argue, can serve as a model for reforming elections and improving democracy.

The letter’s signers include founders of tech firms like FourSquare, Gilt Groupe, bitly and ThinkUp and leaders of venture capital firms including Union Square Ventures, First Mark Capital, IA Ventures, EDVentures, FuturePerfect Ventures, along with academics, authors and other tech community leaders. Organizers have posted the letter at and are urging other leaders of the tech community to add their names to the letter.

Building an open 21st century economy driven by technology innovation requires an open 21st century political system", said Andrew Rasiej, Founder of Personal Democracy media and long time New York based technology entrepreneur. "The tech community is encouraged that Governor Cuomo has made public funding of elections a goal. But the tech community, which is known for delivering great innovative 'apps" now want to see if the Governor can deliver an innovative 'app' for stronger and more open democracy."

The letter highlights crowd-funding website Kickstarter and online code-sharing platforms as powerful models that encourage mass participation and crowd-sourced solutions. Like many New Yorkers, tech leaders see campaign finance reform as a critical step in changing the culture of corruption in Albany.

"Tech leaders have already revolutionized how we communicate and how we shop. If tech leaders can help change how we elect our leaders with public financing of elections, they’ll have done us all a great service,” said Dan Cantor, Executive Director of the Working Families Party, which is also supporting Gov. Cuomo’s efforts for campaign finance reform.

The full list of initial signers is below.

Albert Wenger, Union Square Ventures
Andrew Hoppin, Board of Directors, OpenPlans
Andrew McLaughlin, Entrepreneur in Residence Betaworks
Andrew Rasiej, Personal Democracy Media
Andy Weissman, Union Square Ventures
Anil Dash, CEO/Cofounder, ThinkUp
Beth Noveck, Professor, NYU Graduate School of Public Service & New York Law
Brad Burnham, Union Square Ventures
Clay Shirky, Author/Professor, NYU
David Pakman, Partner, Venrock
David Segal, Demand Progress
Dawn Barber, NY Tech Meetup
Deanna Zandt, Author & Media Technologist
Dennis Crowley, Founder, FourSquare
Esther Dyson, Founder, EDVentures
Evan Korth, Co-Founder, hackNY
Fred Wilson, Union Square Ventures
Hillary Mason, chief scientist, bitly
Jalak Jobanputra, Managing Partner, FuturePerfect Ventures
John Borthwick, Founder, Betaworks
John Buttrick, Union Square Ventures
Kevin Ryan, CEO and Founder, Gilt Groupe
Laurel Touby, Founder,
Lawrence Lessig, Harvard Law School
Micah Sifry, Personal Democracy Media
Nate Westheimer, Executive Director, NY Tech Meetup
Rachel Sklar, Founder, Change the Ratio
Rick Heitzmann, Founder and Managing Director, First Mark Capital
Roger Ehrenberg, Managing Partner, IA Ventures
Scott Heiferman, Founder, & Founder, NY Tech Meetup
Susan Crawford, Professor, Harvard Kennedy School
Yochai Benkler, Harvard Law School
If you talk to elected officials about what it's like having elections financed through taxes, the first thing they say is how much they enjoy not having to fundraise. Not only is it a tedious chore (how many rubber chickens can one eat?), in many cases it takes up the vast majority of an elected official's time. This means that the legislator/executive/official isn't doing the people's business, and is instead busy creating the machinery to help him or her to win elections.

If you want to know how our politics become corrupt, this is the way it happens. We decry the influence of money in politics, then we tell our elected officials to get busy collecting as much of the stuff as they can if they want to survive. So, why should we be surprised when we get lousy, self-serving, corrupt elected officials? This is the system we've built for them, and it's working exactly the way the big-money interests want it to work. Financing elections through taxes is the best way to ensure a truly level playing field, where innovative ideas, not money, would be the strongest currency.

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