Social media tycoon Reid Hoffman founded the business social network Linkedin, and now he’s backing a plan to convince Republican nominee Donald Trump to release his tax returns devised by a 26-year old veteran of the Marines, with $5 million dollars of his own money, as he wrote on Medium:
When Pete Kiernan deployed to Afghanistan in 2012 as a Marine Corp Raider, he put his life on the line in the service of his country and his fellow citizens. He knows first-hand that a life of service comes with risk and sacrifice. He has the moral authority to challenge Trump to demonstrate his own commitment to the core American values of transparency and accountability.
On Crowdpac.com, Kiernan hopes to raise at least $25,000. Then, if Trump releases his tax returns by October 19 (the final debate), Kiernan will donate the money he has raised to non-profit organizations that assist veterans, including Team Rubicon, the Special Ops Warrior Foundation, and theYellow Ribbon Fund. Given Trump’s vocal support of veterans, I imagine he will recognize the great good that can come from Kiernan’s proposal.
But taking Trump’s own 2012 offer to President Obama into account, I’d like to assist Kiernan in his campaign. If Kiernan’s campaign hits or exceeds its target, I will match the total amount he reaches with a 5x contribution, up to $5 million. In other words, if Kiernan raises $200,000 on Crowdpac.com, I’ll contribute $1 million to the campaign. If he raises $1 million, I’ll contribute $5 million.
Hoffman isn’t even the first social media pioneer to pledge big bucks on Medium this week to influence this year’s general election for the better, nor is he the first billionaire to offer a sizable charitable donation to convince the orange-faced politician to release his tax returns either. However, he is the first to propose using a crowd-funding campaign to combine the best elements of both ideas in a manner aimed at raising civic participation.
What makes Hoffman’s blog post so amazing is that he carefully and point by point tears apart Donald Trump’s numerous pitiful excuses for hiding his financial documents from the public and contrasts them with the empty promises he’s made while running for the highest office in the land. Reid Hoffman even brought up the point that Donald Trump blows a lot of smoke about honoring veterans, but when it came time to serve he dodged the draft over and over again. Reading his copy, it’s likely that he’d have done a far superior job interviewing the Republican nominee last week instead of Matt Lauer, and moreover it’s completely impossible to argue with his conclusion either:
In a functioning democracy, the public shouldn’t be forced to bargain with a major presidential candidate to obtain access to his tax returns. And for the last 40 years, it hasn’t had to. With the exception of Gerald Ford, every major candidate has shared this information with voters.
Lest we forget, Republican Gerald Ford became the first ever American elevated to the office of President without ever having been elected, and he lost his election in 1976 to Democrat Jimmy Carter after keeping his personal finances a secret.
Grant Stern is the Executive Editor of Occupy Democrats and published author. His new Meet the Candidates 2020 book series is distributed by Simon and Schuster. He's also mortgage broker, community activist and radio personality in Miami, Florida., as well as the producer of the Dworkin Report podcast. Grant is also an occasional contributor to Raw Story, Alternet, and the DC Report, and an unpaid senior advisor to the Democratic Coalition.