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Lessig Weighs Congressional Run

Publication Date: 
February 21, 2008
The Stanford Daily
Nikhil Joshi

Professor Lawrence Lessig is contemplating running for the late Tom Lantos' seat in Congress, according to The Stanford Daily:

Regardless of whether or not he decides to run, Lessig has made it clear that he is committed to changing Congress in his fight against political corruption.

“What I’ve outlined is a strategy that, through a couple of election cycles, will build a number of candidates that would commit to three simple propositions that would radically change how Congress works,” Lessig told The Daily.

Lessig’s three central reforms would ban earmarks, prohibit politicians from accepting money from lobbyists and support public financing of campaigns.

“We can agree to disagree about the Iraq war, but these three issues need to be resolved,” Lessig said. “The bipartisan commitment [to the three propositions] could commit enough congressmen to make a difference.”


Although he does not underestimate the possibility of a difficult race against Speier, Lessig said he is confident of his chances.

“It’s a very difficult challenge, and I do think it’s possible,” Lessig said. “I voted for her for state senator. One of the things I’m reviewing is how feasible it is.”

Lessig cited his approach to money and his technological expertise as the two factors that will set him apart from Speier.

“She has a different ethic. She accepts money from the interests she regulates,” Lessig said, referring to reports that Speier, who chairs the Senate’s Insurance Committee, received $250,000 from insurance companies.

“That’s exactly the kind of practice that we need to change,” Lessig said.


Lessig believes that his history of involvement with technology would be an important issue in an election, especially because the 12th Congressional District includes Silicon Valley.

“Speier would be a Silicon Valley representative, so it is extraordinarily important that she actually knows about technology,” Lessig said. “I don’t think of myself as a geek, more a geek wannabe, but I have spent 10 years on technology and know the topic intimately. I really do know what conditions are needed for Silicon Valley to flourish.”