Top Campaign finance reform advocate Lawrence Lessig announced on Wednesday his bid for the Democratic presidential nomination. This announcement comes after reaching a $1 million fundraising goal he set for himself on a crowdfunding site. Lessig spokesman confirmed that Lessig would announce his run in New Hampshire. Lessing made a non-formal announcement on ABC’s ‘This Week’ saying he’s running on comprehensive campaign finance and redistricting reform.
This isn’t Lessig’s first foray into electoral politics. Last year, he raised $10 million for a super PAC dedicated to backing candidates who support campaign finance reform, but came away with little to show for it. Lessig, a Harvard professor and constitutional lawyer, announced last month that he was exploring a long-shot bid for the White House, but he has not spoken with Democratic National Committee officials about launching a formal bid.
The system in Washington, he told ABC’s “This Week” Sunday, has been corrupted by unfettered political donations. And the professor picked Claremont as a launching pad to highlight his commitment to campaign finance reform. About 20 years ago, it was in the New Hampshire town that then-President Bill Clinton and then-House Speaker Newt Gingrich shook hands in support of tackling the issue.
The meeting’s most amicable moment came at the beginning, when an audience member asked whether the two leaders could agree on naming a blue-ribbon commission for lobbying and campaign reform. Gingrich said he liked the idea,” “‘In a heartbeat, I accept,’ Clinton responded … ‘Let’s shake hands on that,’ the speaker responded.”
Lessig has also tried to address campaign finance before. The professor founded Mayday PAC in 2014, which backs candidates who endorsed robust campaign finance reform. The plan didn’t go well: The PAC lost a substantial majority of all its 2014 races. If elected president, Lessig said he would resign as soon as he signed campaign finance and election reform legislation and hand over power to his vice president. Stephanopoulos asked Lessig who he would pick as his running mate.
The vice president has to be consistent with the values of the Democratic Party,” Lessig told Stephanopoulos when asked who he might pick for his running mate, “and I’m very much committed to having a candidate who could excite the Democratic base.”
Visitors to Lessig’s website can vote on a number of people they’d like to see as his running mate (and, in theory, eventual president), including astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, former Daily Show host Jon Stewart and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Lessig would need to reach 1 percent in national polls to make it to the party’s first debate next month.