Progressive groups hoping to draft Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren into the 2016 presidential race will tackle money in politics with an event next month in New York City featuring a top advocate of campaign finance reform.
Lawrence Lessig, the Harvard professor who has walked across New Hampshire and started a super PAC to try to pressure politicians on campaign finance reform, will give what organizers describe as “TED-style talk” on Apr. 20 on why Warren should for president. MoveOn.org, which is leading a draft campaign called Run Warren Run along with Democracy for America, is sponsoring the event.
Joining Lessig will be Van Jones, the former Obama administration official and progressive activist, and Zephyr Teachout, who ran a stronger-than-expected primary challenge against New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo last year.
Lessig told msnbc that while there are many things he likes about Hillary Clinton, the presumed frontrunner for the Democratic nomination, "she has historically been tone deaf” on the importance of money in politics.
While Warren’s refrain that the “system is rigged” against average Americans is usually described as an anti-Wall Street message, Lessig sees it as a warning about the corrupting influence of money in politics. “I don’t think there’s any important issue that people on the right or left care about that we can address sensibly until we address this issue,” he said.
His calling on Warren to run for president is “not so much to endorse Elizabeth warren,” he said, “but to get this issue into the campaign,” including trying to move Clinton to address it more forcefully and adopt real solutions to rolling back the effects of the Supreme Court's Citizens United decision.
Lessig will be joined by Jones, who has also called on Warren to run for president, and Teachout, whose 2014 gubernatorial race inspired some draft Warren organizers.
The Boston Globe recently joined calls for Warren to run for president, as did New York’s Working Families Party. Clinton is expected to announce her campaign next month.
Warren has repeatedly said she is not interested in running for president and there is no evidence she is secretly plotting a run.