Mark Zuckerberg’s Lobby Unravelling As Musk And Sacks Leave

Posted: May 11, 2013 in Government, GT

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The technology industry’s newest high-powered
political lobby, FWD.us, is unraveling just a month
after it launched, as two of its biggest partners,
Tesla’s Elon Musk and Yammer’s David Sacks, leave
the organization. Begun with a reported $20 million of
Mark Zuckerberg’s own money, and rare op-ed by the politically shy Facebook founder, FWD.us has faced
a torrent of criticism over funding advertisements that
praise Republicans who support the controversial
Keystone pipeline (below). Environmental groups were up in arms and circulated
a boycott of FWD.us that had, ironically, had more
supporters than FWD.us’s call to action. The Sierra
Club, Progressives United and MoveOn.org were
among a littany of progressive groups that are now
boycotting Facebook avertisements. “Immigration reform – fine. Oil expansion and pipelines? NOT fine.
Where’s the transparency here, rich dudes? Or does
FWD actually stand for Fine With Drilling?,” wrote one
angry commenter on the FWD.us Facebook page. Elon Musk, as founder of Tesla Motors, prides
himself on a sterling environmental record, so it’s
easy to see why he couldn’t tolerate being associated
with a group indirectly funding pro-Keystone pipeline
ads. But, David Sacks doesn’t have as much to lose
publically as Musk, which means that Musk is likely hooking more high-level partners with his departure. Nor is this the group’s first PR disaster. Even before
the group began, FWD.us director and Zuckerberg’s
old Harvard roommate, Joe Green, had to issue a
statement of regret for a leaked perspectus. “Given
the status of our funders and quality of our team, we
will drive national and local narratives to properly frame our agenda,” read the brash strategy note. As we’ve written about before, FWD.us has kept a
tight lid on their funding and tactics. We do know that
FWD.us splits its organization into Democratic and
Republican teams, offering quid pro quo cash in
exchange for support of its key initiative —
immigration. This kind of back-door compromising may work in D.C., but it’s evidently not as well
tolerated in the Valley. In my own off-the-record conversations with
supporters, no one is happy with FWD.us right now. It’s going to become a political landmine to stay on
board, let alone join the group. FWD.us is unraveling,
and we predict it won’t be around much longer unless
it becomes a lot more transparent and ditches the
D.C. tactics. Stay tuned for more.

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