Tesla CEO Elon Musk decided to leave Mark Zuckerberg's immigration reform pushing political action committee FWD.us Friday evening because he doesn't agree with the group's habit of supporting politicians on both sides of the aisle, just so long as they support immigration.
To hear him tell it, Musk is leaving FWD.us because the group was lending support to politicians who support immigration but don't mesh with the rest of his beliefs. "I agreed to support Fwd.us because there is a genuine need to reform immigration. However, this should not be done at the expense of other important causes," Musk told AllThingsD. Also departing the group is former Yammer creator David Sacks. Zuckerberg's created the PAC earlier this year in order to lobby for an increase in H1-B visas. That particular type of visa is a favorite among Silicon Valley luminaries like Zuckerberg, and even Musk. They allow American companies to employ non-citizens in specialized positions, like, not coincidentally, high-skill positions with tech companies likes Facebook.
Musk is an outspoken supporter of green issues. FWD.us has come under fire recently from environmental groups for running positive ads for immigration reform supporters like South Carolina Sen. Lindsay Graham and Alaska Sen. Mark Begich. The ads praised them for supporting the Keystone pipeline and other controversial environmental issues. That kind of trade-off for immigration support is what ultimately led to Sacks and Musk leaving, the Tesla CEO explained:
"I have spent a lot of time fighting far larger lobbying organizations in D.C. and believe that the right way to win on a cause is to argue the merits of that cause. This statement may surprise some people, but my experience is that most (not all) politicians and their staffs want to do the right thing and eventually do.”
FWD.us doesn't plan on learning anything from Musk and Sacks' very high-profile departures. "We recognize that not everyone will always agree with or be pleased by our strategy – and we're grateful for the continued support of our dedicated founders and major contributors," spokeswoman Kate Hansen told Politico. "FWD.us remains totally committed to supporting a bipartisan policy agenda that will boost the knowledge economy, including comprehensive immigration reform."
And why would they? Yes, Musk and Sacks are two very big names with deep pockets coming off Zuckerberg's marquee. But when the group counts LinkedIn’s Reid Hoffman, Yahoo’s Marissa Mayer, Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates and Google’s Eric Schmidt among their supporters, money isn't exactly hard to find. This is a PR blackspot, sure, but one we imagine they'll recover from in the long run. Unless everyone gets fed up with the back scratching, then they'll have a problem on their hands.
Correction: We've been told by representatives that eBay’s John Donahoe is not a member of FWD.us. Sorry for the confusion.