There’s a quiet rumble happening in San Francisco due to California’s “jungle primary” rules. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is facing an opponent from the left. Yes, you read that correctly. In the jungle, the top two vote getters can go into sudden death regardless of party affiliation, and the Speaker now has an opponent who is a nominal Democrat.
If you know even a little about California politics, you’ll know that there are two people in the State who you do not want to jack with and both are from San Francisco. Willie Brown is the first. Jacking with Willie is a really bad idea. You will regret it. The other is Nancy Pelosi. The main difference between the two in my mind is that Willie has a lot more potential challenges to his authority than the Speaker and word gets around. Trust me, if Willie were running, there would be no Democrat challengers. So even if you win, you lose.
There’s one guy who has not gotten the word about Speaker Pelosi, and that is one Shahid Buttar, Lawrence Lessig crony and Electronic Frontier Foundation lawyer. Mr. Buttar is running in the jungle against Speaker Pelosi.
Yes, you read that correctly, too. The EFF has their own guy in the hunt for the Speaker’s scalp. We’re way past ice cream now.
To his credit, Shahid Buttar does not shy away from his EFF connection. He’s quite proud of it and uses it as a major selling point to potential constituents. What I haven’t seen him talk about is the EFF’s funding from Google and others in the Big Tech crew. Mr. Buttar wants to talk up the privacy side of the EFF’s hustle and his role in “grassroots organizing” for EFF. I had an example of the EFF’s grassroots organizing recently in Austin when they sent someone to argue against the CASE Act at a bar panel I spoke on advocating for the CASE Act. We’ve seen other examples of the EFF’s grassroots organizing which amazingly always has the wrong side of artist rights.
Yet, there’s really no question that EFF gets a substantial amount of money from Google–money that likely paid Mr. Buttar’s salary for many years. For example, the Google Shill List from the Oracle case is pretty clear:
Not to mention the cool million that EFF picked up in the juiced up class action cy pres awards against Big Tech seeking indulgences:
Roger Parloff the investigative journalist called attention to this unholy alliance in Fortune:
If the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the nation’s preeminent digital rights nonprofit, had disclosed last year that it received a cool $1 million gift from Google — about 17% of its total revenue — some eyebrows might have been raised. The group typically describes itself as “member-supported” and, like most nonprofits, it treasures its above-the-commercial-fray, public-interest-group aura and reputation for independence.
Which means that it is hard to believe that Mr. Buttar did not get top cover from Google before he made his move. But he definitely is against the “mass spying” that Google and Facebook have been conducting against unsuspecting users while pushing internet addiction–you know, the mass surveillance operations that gave his employer millions (and gave Google billions) and, according to a petition his contributors signed against Google’s project Dragonfly, “create[d} a censored search engine for the Chinese market that enables state surveillance.”
But it’s all about social justice according to a quote from Mr. Buttar’s campaign reported in The Intercept:
“Pelosi knows that voters are dissatisfied, and before the primary began campaigning in San Francisco for the first time in 30 years,” said Jasper Wilde, campaign manager for the Buttar campaign, in a statement to The Intercept.
“Shahid going 1-1 against Nancy will shine a spotlight on precisely how little she has done for the district in the midst of a housing crisis, an opioid crisis, and an out-of-control cost of living. The election will also reveal her role in exacerbating these issues, that remain at the forefront of voters minds both today and in November.”
Note that all those campaign issues rattled off by Mr. Buttar’s current campaign manager are either exclusively, or to a large extent, city and county issues and many are brought on by the Big Tech billionaires whose employees or cronies fund Mr. Buttar’s employer–which benefited him both before and after his “leave of absence”. (And note he doesn’t say “unpaid leave of absence.”)
I mentioned Mr. Buttar’s breathless street cred as an EFF “grassroots organizer” to some friends in the labor movement (one was a COPE person). When the laughter stopped, one pointed to scar tissue on the side of his head and asked, does he have one of these?
But we wish Mr. Buttar well. Let a hundred flowers blossom.