(Photo : Reuters)
Tesla Motors CEO and SpaceX founder Elon Musk has parted ways with the pro-immigration reform political action committee founded by Facebook mogul Mark Zuckerberg.
Several months ago, Zuckerberg formed Fwd.us to lobby for the immigration reform bill in the Senate, specifically proposals that would increase the number of high-tech H1-B visas allocated, allowing Facebook and other tech giants to import as many skilled workers from overseas as they want.
But to achieve this end, Fwd.us has been willing to throw money at any politician that supports this single issue, whatever their positions on other, ostensibly more important issues.
Musk departed when Fwd.us produced and aired ads supporting the policies of two Republican members of the Senate's Gang of Eight, Marco Rubio of Florida and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina.
The ads didn't just tout their position on immigration reform; they lauded many of their initiatives, including support for the Keystone XL oil pipeline, a project strongly opposed by environmental advocates.
Musk runs an electric car company. Do the math.
"I agreed to support Fwd.us because there is a genuine need to reform immigration. However, this should not be done at the expense of other important causes. I have spent a lot of time fighting far larger lobbying organizations in D.C. and believe that the right way to win on a cause is to argue the merits of that cause. This statement may surprise some people, but my experience is that most (not all) politicians and their staffs want to do the right thing and eventually do," Musk told AllThingsD yesterday.
In addition, the Sierra Club and the League of Conservation Voters pulled their Facebook ads, as did MoveOn.org and the immigration reform group Presente.org. All those organizations are halting future ad buys for two weeks awaiting a response from Facebook.
They may have to wait a while. More likely, they'll resume ad buys in two weeks, since Facebook isn't known for caving to pressure.
"We recognize that not everyone will always agree with or be pleased by our strategy -- and we're grateful for the continued support of our dedicated founders and major contributors. FWD.us remains totally committed to supporting a bipartisan policy agenda that will boost the knowledge economy, including comprehensive immigration reform," said Kate Hansen, a spokeperson for Fwd.us.
While it's good that Musk and these other organizations are sticking to their principles now, it's worrying that it took this long. Aside from the immigration issue, Rubio and Graham are textbook Republicans. Of course their environmental records are terrible. But they also advocate programs and policies that adversely affect immigrants and minorities. They oppose affirmative action, the Voting Rights Act, ObamaCare, abortion care, the Head Start program, gun control, financial regulation and unions.
Single-issue voters have produced a polarized and partisan Congress. Single issue lobbying is much worse.