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New Site, 'Movement' Focuses On Congressional Corruption

Publication Date: 
March 21, 2008
Washington Internet Daily
Alexis Fabbri

Professor Lawrence Lessig is quoted in the Washington Internet Daily about how his newly launched Change Congress movement will work:

A new "political mashup" site aims to reduce special interests' influence in Congress, "the one institution that really needs to change," it said. Stanford law professor Lawrence Lessig, founder of the school's Center for Internet & Society, and political strategist Joe Trippi Thursday launched the Change Congress movement, in Lessig's words "a Silicon Valley approach to the problem" of corruption, at the National Press Club in Washington.


Citizens can pledge to back only candidates who favor change. Change Congress also plans to develop "wikified tools" to "build an army of collaborators to suss out which reform certain candidates are for" and then ask that member to join the movement, Lessig said. The site will map which members have taken the pledge. Site users can donate as little as $5 to those members' campaigns. Other "wikified" tools will roll out soon, Lessig said.

The U.S. government has a track record of bungling "easy public policy questions" on copyright, global warming and other matters, Lessig said. The "rise of coin-operated experts" who "come to Washington paid by industry to opine about matters of public policy has harmed the public trust and slowed progress," he said, declaring that respect for Congress is "at its lowest ever. All these problems are driven by the improper influence of money." Most members may be "personally honest," but "the institution is corrupt," Lessig said.

This election's 68 open seats, the most in play since 1996, mean there is an "extra opportunity for change," he said. ... "The right has been skeptical of more 'big government,'" but "if we could remove financial dependency... we could allow government to shrink" in appropriate places, Lessig said. "A huge chunk of the FCC could disappear if it weren't for this weird and perverse interaction" between candidates and campaign donors with vested interests in maintaining regulation.