Support Marketplace

MayDay PAC: The end of the Super PAC era?

Academic Lawrence Lessig is hoping to take down Super PACs by creating one of his own.

Money plays a crucial role during the political campaign season. The amount of money backing your campaign could mean a win or loss in a seat in Congress. And when Super PACs were deemed legal by the Supreme Court in 2010, the game changed.

Before Super PACs were "super", a PAC was limited to spending no more than $2,500, with corporations and unions strictly forbidden from making donations. Now corporations and unions are allowed to make donations and the limit to spending? Well there is none.

Fair or not, this is one issue that is set in stone... or at least was. Lawrence Lessig, a Harvard Law professor, wants to take down these Super PACs... by creating one of his own. This past weekend, the MayDay PAC reached its fund raising goal of $5 million. Lessig plans to start the anti-Super PAC campaign for this year's House of Representative election.

"We want to win five seats so we can convince the people of Washington that this issue really matters to voters so that we can build the campaign we have to have for 2016 that will win a Congress that is committed to changing the way that elections are funded."

This goal isn't an easy feat. The elections take place in a few months and the majority of people who donated are from areas that have a Democratic seat in the House, according to a map from the MayDay website. But Lessig says this issue is as important to people on the right as well as the left.

"You know, when Dave Brat beat Eric Cantor, the number two issue he talked about was that Eric Cantor had become a Crony Capitalist. So our view is this is cross partisan and we can talk about this in a way that gets people on the right and people on the left to recognize that though they don't have a common end, they have a common enemy. And the common enemy is the way we fund campaigns today."

Now that Lessig has done his part to raise money for the MayDay PAC, he'll hand it over to the campaign shops "that are experts at winning campaigns" and wait until November to see if it was all worth it. 

About the author

Kai Ryssdal is the host and senior editor of Marketplace, public radio’s program on business and the economy.

Comments

I agree to American Public Media's Terms and Conditions.
With Generous Support From...