The Mayday Super PAC, which has asked for big money donations in the name of stopping big money donations (“embrace the irony”), has marketed itself as something new and innovative, right down to the use of hipster indie millenial movement phrases like “kickstart” and “leap” and “change the story.” Given the vocabulary of Mayday PAC’s promotional material, you certainly could be forgiven for thinking it was a non-profit startup working from scratch. It turns out that you’d be wrong.
The following are the named leadership staff of the Mayday Super PAC:
|Lawrence||Lessig||Board Member and Founder|
|Mark||McKinnon||Board Member and Founder|
Now look at the leadership board of United Republic, another political corporation that solicits big donations and that seeks through its Represent.us webpage to run campaigns that “pressure politicians at every level of government who fail to support the standards of the Anti-Corruption Act: make corruption a ballot-box issue”:
|Theodore||Roosevelt IV||Board Member|
Ready for another political corporation? Look at the named leaders of Fund for the Republic, which through an arm called Action for the Republic plans to spend money in campaigns against certain congressional candidates in the 2014 election:
|Kahlil||Byrd||Chief Investment Officer|
|Gerad||Teague||Development Research Manager|
|Shirley Hamilton||Hartman||Director of Development|
|Cory||Hodson||Fundraising and Development Intern|
Phew! I know, there are a lot of names here. We’re almost done. Take a look at one more political corporation: Run for America. Here’s what Run for America plans to do in 2016:
“Run for America is a post-partisan initiative designed to fix our dysfunctional politics by strategically supporting a new generation of highly talented leaders, innovators, social change agents, entrepreneurs, and outside the box thinkers for public office. These leaders are driven not by political self-preservation, party loyalty, or serving special interests, but by a desire to solve big problems, will in turn will offer a new approach to politics and be able to lead us into an era of problem-solving, common sense, less polarized politics. To this end, Run for America will recruit, support, and elect 10-20 candidates for U.S. House races in the 2016 election. Our group of candidates will be highly diverse, and “look like America,” at least 50% of our candidates will be women. Once elected to office, theseMembers of Congress will be the loudest voices pushing to address the key challenges facing our country and our political system. “
Sound familiar? The ostensible goal may be different (polarized politics and party loyalty instead of campaign finance), but the strategy is the same: pick some candidates and elect them to Congress. Here are the named leaders of Run for America:
Now, there sure are a lot of names in the leadership lists of these four political corporations: 76 names, as a matter of fact. But there are very few of these names that appear in the leadership roster of more than one of these groups. All but six of these leaders are in the leadership of just one or two of the four political corporations. Nick Penniman is in the leadership of two of these groups: Fund for the Republic and United Republic. Norm Ornstein of the American Enterprise Institute is also in the leadership of two groups: Run for America and United Republic. The remaining four individuals are each in the leadership of three out of four political corporations:
|Kahlil Byrd||Mayday PAC, Run for America, Fund for theRepublic|
|Lawrence Lessig||Mayday PAC, Fund for the Republic, United Republic|
|Mark McKinnon||Mayday PAC, Fund for the Republic, United Republic|
|Trevor Potter||Mayday PAC, Run for America, Fund for the Republic|
Each one of those four most central men is in the leadership of the Mayday PAC. Three of the four of them make a ruling majority of the Mayday PAC board.
The Mayday Super PAC is not exactly lying to the American public about its embededness in DC political corporate circles. But this fact is obscured by the Mayday PAC website, an exhaustive search of which reveals only one tangential note to the effect that just one of these leaders — Kahlil Byrd — is a leader of just one of these other political corporations — Fund for the Republic. The Mayday PAC website does not reveal any of the other existing core leadership overlaps. Why is that?
It has been noted by scholars of administration that overlaps in corporate leadership are a product and predictor of coordinated activity. One of the objections of campaign finance reformers is that too many groups are attempting to appear independent but are actually spending money in coordinated fashion toward shared political goals and excluding non-moneyed players in the process. Is this another “irony” that we should “embrace”?
To be clear, the existence of a small central core spanning these four groups is not proof that the corporations are working in coordinated fashion with one another putting forth independent faces to the public. On the other hand, the probability that these leadership overlaps occured by sheer chance is phenomenally small. The Mayday Super PAC does not stand alone. It is also part of a system. In the spirit of political transparency, those who have been asked to give money to the Super PAC should be told.