Mark Zuckerberg’s New Political Group Spending Big On Ads Supporting Keystone XL And Oil Drilling

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"Mark Zuckerberg’s New Political Group Spending Big On Ads Supporting Keystone XL And Oil Drilling"

Mark Zuckerberg

Credit: Guillaume Paumier

Mark Zuckerberg’s new political group, which bills itself as a bipartisan entity dedicated to passing immigration reform, has spent considerable resources on ads advocating a host of anti-environmental causes — including driling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) and constructing the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline.

The umbrella group, co-founded by Facebook’s Zuckerberg, NationBuilder’s co-founder Joe Green, LinkedIn’s Reid Hoffman, Dropbox’s Drew Houston, and others in the tech industry, is called FWD.US. Its initial priority is the passage of a comprehensive immigration reform bill, including enhanced border security, more visas for workers with special skills, and a pathway to citizenship for those living in the U.S. without legal status. Other long-term priorities for the group include education reform and expanded scientific research.

FWD.US is bankrolling two subsidiary organizations to purchase TV ads to advance the overarching agenda — one run by veteran Republican political operatives and one led by Democratic strategists. The GOP-lead group, called Americans For A Conservative Direction, has created an ad in support of Sen. Lindsay Graham (R-SC) which praises him for supporting construction of the Keystone XL pipeline and expanded drilling elsewhere. The ad, which does not mention immigration policy, also attacks Obamacare, “wasteful stimulus spending,” and “seedy Chicago-style politics.” Politico reports the group plans a seven-figure buy with this and other ads.

Watch the ad:

The other group, called Council for American Job Growth and purportedly intended to appeal to liberals, lauds Sen. Mark Begich (D-AK) for “working to open ANWR to drilling.” The ad also does not mention immigration reform but does highlight Begich’s support of a balanced budget amendment.

Watch the spot:

The group’s forceful advocacy for expanded drilling and pipeline construction is surprising given Zuckerberg’s public statements about the purpose of the group. In an introductory column, Zuckerberg said that the group would be dedicated to “building the knowledge economy,” which he contrasts to “the economy of the last century… primarily based on natural resources.” Zuckerberg adds, “there are only so many oil fields, and there is only so much wealth that can be created from them for society.”

Both ads appear to be trying to give political cover to vulnerable centrists, in hopes of ensuring their support for major immigration reform — though Graham’s support seems certain as he is a member of the Gang of Eight pushing the measure. But the proposals already enjoy broad popularity among both Republicans and the public overall.

In the past, Zuckerberg has emphasized the importance of moving from dirty fossil fuels to clean renewable energy.

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Kate Hansen, communications director for FWD.US told ThinkProgress: “FWD.us is committed to showing support for elected officials who promote the policy changes needed to build the knowledge economy. Maintaining two separate entities, Americans for a Conservative Direction & the Council for American Job Growth, to support elected officials across the political spectrum – separately – means that we can more effectively communicate with targeted audiences of their constituents.”

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