I have a small items in the magazine about the latest updates on Larry Lessig’s Change Congress. (Which I profiled here last year.) Since it’s behind the paywall, I’m just gonna pirate myself and post it below:
GIVE-NOTHING DEMOCRACY: In the summer of 2007 free-culture guru Lawrence Lessig announced he’d be undertaking a project focusing his academic work and activism on understanding and fighting corruption. He founded Change-Congress.org to help create an online grassroots constituency for the kinds of pro-democracy reforms that would reduce the influence of big money on legislative outcomes (see “Mr. Lessig Goes to Washington,” June 16, 2008). But while Change Congress slowly built an e-mail list and raised money, its first year was relatively low-key, at least partly because of an amorphous mission and an overly broad set of objectives.
But in preparation for the 111th Congress, the group has doubled its staff from two to four, bringing in Stephanie Taylor and Adam Green, two veterans of MoveOn.org. It has also focused its operation on bipartisan clean elections bills that will be reintroduced in the House and Senate this term. The Senate version, co-sponsored by Dick Durbin and Arlen Specter, would provide public funding for Congressional elections, paid for by a broadcasting fee.
And as this issue went to press, Lessig (who recently moved from Stanford to Harvard) was scheduled to appear on The Colbert Report to announce Change Congress’s most ambitious campaign yet: a donor strike. Lessig is urging supporters to pledge not to donate any money to politicians who have not signed on as co-sponsors of the pubic-financing bills. “You can help your democracy and do your civic duty by giving nothing,” says interim CEO Green, “which is a perfect message for this economy.”