Recently, much has been made about the article by David Sirota at PandoDaily titled The Wolf of Sesame Street: Revealing the secret corruption inside PBS’s news division, regarding the financing of the “Pension Peril” series for WNET in New York. [It should be noted, as was revealed to the Romney camp, that Sesame Street is a separate entity from PBS, WNET, et al. More on Mitt Romney and PandoDaily’s financier’s later.]
The premise of Sirota’s piece is that John Arnold, through the Laura and John Arnold Foundation, is influencing the content of “Pension Peril” through a $3.5 million grant; further, it alleges that WNET engaged in corruption by accepting the grant.
While it is true that Mr. Arnold is an advocate of pension reform, I thought it would be interesting to note his other associations — including those of PandoDaily’s financial backers.
According to the Grants page at the Laura and John Arnold Foundation, ProPublica, Inc. was given a grant in the amount of $2 million for the term 2013-2015. ProPublica also notes the Laura and John Arnold Foundation on their supporter page. It should be noted that ProPublica has also been covering pensions, including news reports and investigations.
A search at ProPublica shows that “John Arnold” and “Laura and John Arnold Foundation” are only revealed in the Supporters page. There are no disclosures of Laura and John Arnold Foundation funding in any of the pension articles at ProPublica.
On January 16, 2012, Gigaom featured an article regarding PandoDaily’s start-up financing, “Sarah Lacy’s PandoDaily launches with $2.5 million in funding.”
The company is being funded by a $2.5 million investment from some of the most well known investors in Silicon Valley and some of the top seed funds. Investors in PandoDaily are - Marc Andreessen, Peter Thiel, Tony Hseih (Zappos), Zach Nelson (NetSuite), Andrew Anker, Chris Dixon (FounderCollective), Saul Klein (IndexVentures), Josh Kopelman (First Round Capital)…
In 2012, Lacy founded technology news site PandoDaily with a reported $2.5m investment from investors including Marc Andreessen, Peter Thiel, Tony Hsieh, David Sze, Jim Breyer, Reid Hoffman, Chris Dixon and Josh Kopelman. The site consists of a daily technology blog and a monthly event series entitled “PandoMonthly”.
Peter Thiel - Libertarian and Republican Donor:
Venture capitalist and hedge fund manager Peter Thiel. Was a co-founder of PayPal and later CEO. Mr. Thiel would also go on to support Meg Whitman for her unsuccesful bid as governor of California ($25,900).
Meg Whitman was a partner with Pierre Omidyar at eBay — as CEO she purchased PayPal from Thiel et al in 2010. Thiel was also a trader for Credit Suisse and speech writer for William Bennett.
Peter Thiel and Sarah Lacy
• Largest contributor to “Club for Growth” in sum of $1 million.
• Co-authored “The Diversity Myth: ‘Multiculturalism’ and the Politics of Intolerance at Stanford” (1995) with David O. Sacks.
• Libertarian objectivist.
• $3.9 million to “Endorse Liberty” supporting Ron Paul for president (2012).
• Private meeting with Rand Paul — “the future of the Liberty Movement.”
• Endorsed Ron Paul for president in 2007.
• Contributed to McCain/Palin 2012.
• $1.7 million Ron Paul Super-Pac in 2012.
• Helped fund James O’Keefe’s “Taxpayers Clearing House” in 2009.
• Multiple contributions to Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, Paul Ryan and Mitt Romney.
Peter Thiel’s Republican Party political candidate donations:
Rep. James E. Rogan, Don Stenberg, Sen. John Thune Douglas Forrester, Rep. Robin Hayes, Sen. John Cornyn, Sen. Elizabeth Dole, Sen. Lamar Alexander, State Sen. Dick Monteith, Rep. Lee Terry, Sen. Chuck Hagel, Rep. Dan Lungren, Rep. Bob Beauprez, Rep. Mike Simpson, Rep. Tom Tancredo, Rep. Mary Bono, Gov. Butch Otter, Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, Rep. Nancy Johnson, Rep. Scott Garrett, Rep. Tim Johnson, Rep. Bill Thomas, Sen. Jeff Flake, Sen. Jim DeMint, Sen. Jim Talent, Rep. Denny Rehberg, Rep. Rob Simmons, Rep. Jon Porter, Rep. Roscoe Bartlett, Rep. Ed Royce, Sen. Susan Collins, Sen. Gordon H. Smith, Rep. Bob Schaffer, John Neely Kennedy, Sen. Norm Coleman, Rep. Mike Coffman, Rep. Eric Cantor, John Raese, Dino Rossi, Ryan Brumberg, Sen. Rand Paul, Randy Altschuler, Rep. Justin Amash, State Sen. Richard Tisei, Kevin McCarthy, Sen. Ted Cruz, Josh Mandel, and Sen. Orrin Hatch.
Ted Cruz and Rand Paul
For a more detailed look at Peter Thiel’s political contributions click here.
Peter Thiel “has worked as a derivatives trader at Credit Suisse Financial Products, a securities lawyer for Sullivan & Cromwell, and a speechwriter for former education secretary William J. Bennett.”
Marc Andreessen - Romney/Ryan Supporter:
Marc Andreessen is another venture capitalist millionaire (not a billionaire as Theil is). Andreessen was the founder of Mosaic and Netscape. In addition to helping start PandoDaily, his investments include Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and others. Andreessen serves on the board of eBay (see Whitman, Omidyar, et al).
While he supported Barack Obama in 2008, Mr. Andreessen flipped in 2012 to support Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan.
Marc Andreessen and Sarah Lacy
He’s contributed $15,000 to Ryan Prosperity Action, Inc.; Cantor Victory Fund; Romney for President, Inc.; Scott Brown; over $50,000 to the National Republican Senatorial Committee; and $30,5000 to the National Republican Congressional Committee.
In 2012, Business Insider reported:
He has contributed $100,000 to Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s campaign via a SuperPAC…
…Andreessen says he supports Romney because he is a “dyed-in-the-wool” businessman who understand that “regulations” get in the way of business.
Andreessen says he used to support Democrats - like Clinton/Gore, for example - but “I turned 40 last year and so I figured it was time to make the switch.”
The amount Republican super-donor Peter Thiel and newly minted Republican Marc Andreessen infused into PandoDaily remains unknown. No attempt was made to contact any of the individuals in this story. What remains clear is that PandoDaily and David Sirota have accused WNET and the Arnold Foundation with corruption for having the latter provide grant money for the series, “Pension Peril.”
The question remains, how can WNET be accused of corruption when ProPublica, who also cover pensions, is the recipient of $2 million from the Laura and John Arnold Foundation and gets away unnoticed?
Update and of further interest.
PayPal Founder Peter Thiel Continues to Tout Anti-Government Manifesto
Southern Poverty Law Center
Intelligence Report, Summer 2012, Issue Number: 146
“I no longer believe that freedom and democracy are compatible,” Thiel wrote in a 2009 manifesto published by the libertarian Cato Institute. “Since 1920, the vast increase in welfare beneficiaries and the extension of the franchise to women — two constituencies that are notoriously tough for libertarians — have rendered the notion of ‘capitalist democracy’ into an oxymoron.” Bemoaning the fate of the “smartest libertarians” who, he claims, were so bummed out by the state of capitalism that they “escaped not only to alcohol but beyond it,” he outlined a vision of the future free from the quixotic desires of the poor, stupid, and X-chromosomed among us.