Political Animals

Mark Zuckerberg’s Stealth Political PAC Is Reportedly Raising $50 Million

Misters Silicon Valley go to Washington.
(Photo: ITechBook.net)

(Photo: ITechBook.net)

The Wall Street Journal has unearthed more details about the Silicon Valley political advocacy group first reported by The San Francisco Chronicle.

Mark Zuckerberg–fresh off his fundraiser for Republican governor Chris Christie!–is working on launching the group, along with his close friend Joe Green, a former Harvard University roommate. Mr. Green was previously involved with NationBuilder.com and Causes.com and is now an entrepreneur-in-residence at Andreessen Horowitz. (As we noted last fall, founder Marc Andreessen himself contributed exclusively to a number of Republican campaigns, after previously supporting Clinton-Gore.)

But the tech and Republican connections don’t stop there.

The bipartisan group includes Joe Lockhart, a former Facebook VP of global communications now at the Glover Park Group, as well as “Beltway insider consultants, including Republican strategists Jon Lerner and Rob Jesmer.” The Journal says Mr. Jesmer, the former executive director of the National Republican Senatorial Committee “is especially active on a day-to-day basis.”

The technology leaders are pushing for federal legislation relevant to their hiring interests, such as immigration and education reform, as well as funding for scientific research. And the Journal says it will soon have money to burn:

The group, which so far doesn’t have a name, is aiming to raise roughly $50 million and has already secured commitments in the tens of millions of dollars from Mr. Zuckerberg and more than a dozen other tech executives includingLinkedIn Corp. LNKD +0.13% founder Reid Hoffman, said these people.

The Chronicle called the group a Super PAC. But according to the Journal, Mr. Zuckerberg’s political advocacy group plans to register as a 501(c)(4). The formal announcement isn’t expected for another few weeks, but that designation would make the group a so-called “stealth PAC.” Like the better-known super PACS, stealth PACs “are allowed to accept donations of unlimited size and apply that money to political campaigns.” However, unlike super PACs, stealth PACs must show “influencing the outcomes of elections is not their primary purpose.” This distinction allows them not to “disclose any information about their donors” and means they are regulated by the I.R.S., which is less aggressive with oversight than the Federal Election Commission.

With Sheryl Sandberg’s widely-expected campaign, maybe this means we’ll be sorting through the SEC’s Facebook investigation, rather than the Bain Capital files come 2016.

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