A liberal group is calling for tech executives to quit the lobbying organization of Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg in protest of ads that backed energy industry priorities.
CREDO, the liberal mobile phone company that has an advocacy arm, started an online petition that calls for Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer, LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman, Ebay CEO John Donahoe, investor John Doerr, and even Zuckerberg, to resign from the group, which is called FWD.us.
The petition says the high-profile tech executives should leave FWD.us just as Tesla CEO Elon Musk and Yammer CEO David Sacks did last week.
Reuters reported that Musk and Sacks left the group after it funded political TV ads praising lawmakers for supporting the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline and drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
CREDO's petition argues that the tech executives shouldn't promote clean energy policies at their companies while simultaneously running political ads that undermine those principles.
"If enough of us push back and keep this issue in the public eye, they will be under immense pressure, not just from us but from their staff and shareholders, to stop supporting FWD.us," the petition adds.
While the petition says Ebay's Donahoe is a member of FWD.us, a spokesman for the company said he is not affiliated with the group.
CREDO and a coalition of other liberal and environmental groups launched a protest last week against FWD.us for funding the TV ads and said they would withhold buying online ads on Facebook for at least two weeks.
FWD.us, which launched last month and is co-founded by an all-star roster of tech luminaries, is currently focused on rallying support for comprehensive immigration reform. Zuckerberg authored an editorial in The Washington Post that outlined the group's policy goals on the day FWD.us launched.
The young group has been off to a rocky start after the TV ads sparked outcry from CREDO and other advocacy groups, followed soon thereafter by the sudden departure of Musk and Sacks.
Notably, Musk is the co-founder and CEO of Silicon Valley-based electric car maker Tesla. He also serves as the chairman of SolarCity, which installs solar panels.
The controversy is centered around a pair of political TV ads funded by Zuckerberg's group that touted the conservative bona fides of Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Mark Begich (D-Alaska), who could face backlash for supporting comprehensive immigration reform in their home states. Two separate groups funded by FWD.us are responsible for running the ads.
The ads were designed to rally support for the two senators by highlighting their positions on other issues that are key to conservatives. The ad for Graham highlighted his support for the Keystone XL pipeline, while the ad supporting Begich touted his support for opening the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge for drilling.
"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," FWD.us spokeswoman Kate Hansen said in a statement after Musk and Sacks left the group. "FWD.us remains totally committed to supporting a bipartisan policy agenda that will boost the knowledge economy, including comprehensive immigration reform."
FWD.us is led by Joe Green, founder of Causes.com and Zuckerberg's former Harvard roommate.
In addition to its donor list of top tech executives, such as Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer and Netflix CEO Reed Hastings, the group has also retained a group of prominent Washington political consultants. They include Joe Lockhart, senior adviser and co-founder of the Glover Park Group; Republican consultant Jon Lerner; and Rob Jesmer, a partner at public affairs firm FP1 Strategies and former executive director of the National Republican Senatorial Committee.
— This post was updated at 1:55 p.m. and 3:06 p.m.