Harvard professor Lessig teases 2016 run to push Dems to fix campaign finance once and for all
Harvard University professor Lawrence Lessig appears in campaign announcement video (YouTube)

Harvard professor and Creative Commons founder Lawrence Lessig will explore campaigning for the presidency as a Democrat, the New York Times reported.


"The reason I've been driven to this is the constant 'emperor wears no clothes' feeling about this election," he said. "We need a plan for unrigging the system first, and none of them have given us that plan."

Lessig said he would enter the campaign if he could raise $1 million by Sept. 7. He also said in his campaign announcement video that he would run as a "referendum candidate" in the Democratic primaries if the party's leading candidates did not commit to making campaign financing reform their top priority if elected president.

"I would tie every issue in the campaign -- from climate change to student debt -- to this fundamental corruption," he said in the video. "I would make citizen equality central to this election, and if this referendum won, its mandate would be as powerful as any that's possible within our political system."

The "referendum president," Lessig said, would remain in office just long enough to enact financing reform before stepping aside in favor of the vice-president.

"This won't be easy, I get it," he said in the video. "And no doubt, there should be someone better than me. I have tried to recruit them. And if someone better-known credibly commits to making this run, I would happily step aside."

Last year, his Mayday SuperPAC raised that much in 12 days, and ultimately raised $7.8 million to support candidates who backed campaign funding reform.

His campaign website revisits that theme, with the introduction of what he calls the Citizen Equality Act of 2017, which would include a provision granting individual voters vouchers to use for contributing to congressional and presidential campaigns.

Watch Lessig's video announcing his campaign goals, as posted on Monday, below.