Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has reportedly committed $45 million to political causes so far in 2017 and plans to “influence American politics for generations to come.”
According to Vice News, “the 33-year-old Facebook co-founder is planning to influence American politics for generations to come. And that campaign has already begun.”
Despite this, the report dispelled ongoing rumors that Zuckerberg may plan a presidential run in 2020, instead indicating that he has bigger plans.
“The world’s fifth-richest man has publicly committed $45 million — most of it in the first 10 months of 2017 — into groups aligned with two political causes: ending the era of mass incarceration and fixing the affordable housing crisis in American cities,” Vice reported. “The sum, reported here for the first time, represents the first series of investments by the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative (with wife Priscilla Chan), or CZI, which is setting goals to extend far beyond the next election cycle.”
“With a $60 billion-plus funding commitment, CZI would be the biggest foundation in the world, almost 30 percent larger than the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation at $43 billion,” Vice News explained. “And like the Gates Foundation, CZI is putting a significant chunk of its resources into engineering, education, and scientific research, with the goal of ‘advancing human potential and promoting equal opportunity.'”
In their report, Vice News also explained that because CZI is a limited liability company and not a foundation, they will have “more flexibility in political advocacy and far fewer legal obligations to disclose how it does so.”
In a statement, Zuckerberg’s associate and former Obama campaign manager David Plouffe declared, “I think that the sort of political scuttlebutt has been kind of silly both in terms of what we’re doing and Mark’s travel… You can’t manage a fictitious campaign.”
“We are in the first half of the first inning,” added Ken Mehlman, a leader on CZI’s public policy advisory board and a former RNC chairman and campaign manager for George W. Bush. “[Zuckerberg and Chan] are thinking in terms of achieving social change over decades, not in terms of politics or years or election cycles.”
Sheila Krumholz, the executive director of the Center for Responsive Politics, also pointed out the benefits of CZI being a limited liability company, declaring, “Clearly, CZI wants the latitude to advocate on political and social issues and they don’t want to have to worry about doing backflips to meet the requirements to reach tax-exempt status.”
“Now they can be political; they just have to pay taxes on it,” she concluded.