Zuckerberg gets a thumbs down from Vinod Khosla

Not everybody ‘likes’ Facebook founder’s foray into political advocacy

By Global India Newswire

WASHINGTON, DC: Turns out not everyone “likes” Facebook boss Mark Zuckerberg’s foray into politics, or for that matter “shares” his new group’s political advocacy methods. Ad campaigns by Fwd.us, the lobbying group founded by Zuckerberg recently on behalf of two senators, have come under fire from some in the tech industry and liberal circles.

Fwd.us was launched last month by Zuckerberg and some prominent tech leaders, including executives of LinkedIn, Dropbox and NationBuilder, to campaign for a comprehensive immigration reform bill. One of the issues the group feels strongly about is H-1B visas, which are used by U.S. tech companies to hire workers from abroad and foreign students graduated from American universities.

The liberal Think Progress reported last week that two subsidiaries of Fwd.us, Americans For Conservative Direction (AFCD), which backs Republican candidates that support immigration reform, and the Democratic-leaning Council for American Job Growth, have “spent considerable resources on ads advocating a host of anti-environmental causes — including drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) and constructing the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline.”

An ad bankrolled by AFCD in South Carolina lauds the state’s Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham for opposing Obamacare, popular among Democrats. In the same ad, Graham is seen criticizing President Obama for not allowing Keystone pipeline and drilling in the Gulf of Mexico.

A second ad aired by Council for American Job Growth praises Alaska Sen. Mark Begich for working to open “ANWR to drilling.”

Among those who have come out openly against FWD.US’ strategy is Indian American investor Vinod Khosla. “Will Fwd.us prostitute climate destruction & other values to get a few engineers hired & get immigration reform?” the Sun Microsystems cofounder tweeted Sunday.

A spokesman for Khosla told Politico: “Vinod supports immigration reform but not at the expense of more critical longer-term problems.”

One of Fwd.us founders is Indian American Aditya Agarwal, vice president of engineering at Dropbox. At a recent TechCrunch event in New York, video of which is posted on the group’s Facebook page, Agarwal recounted the enormous difficulties he had to face to get his work visa and green card. “At every step of the way that I managed to get a visa, I personally know people who didn’t,” he said.

Fwd.us’ lobbying strategy has come under criticism in recent days.

“In service of noble causes, FWD.us is employing questionable lobbying techniques, misleading supporters, and not being transparent about the underlying values and long-term intentions of the organization,” wrote Josh Green, founder of Branch, in a recent blog after a luncheon meeting with Fwd.us president Joe Green.

It is not known how much money Zuckerberg and fellow tech moguls have given to Fwd.us. The organization, being a 501(c)(4) group, doesn’t have to disclose the donors or contributions.

The only political contributions Zuckerbeg made until he launched Fwd.us were the two $5,000 checks he wrote for the Facebook political action committee, according to the campaign watchdog group Center for Responsive Politics.

To contact the author, e-mail: editor@americanbazaaronline.com

One Comment

  1. “In service of noble causes…”

    “It is not known how much money Zuckerberg and fellow tech moguls have given to Fwd.us. The organization, being a 501(c)(4) group, doesn’t have to disclose the donors or contributions.”

    So much for the nobility of transparency.

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