RNC circulates petition, raises funds off Uber

The Republican National Committee is using the name of car service Uber to raise money, siding with the tech upstart in its fight against regulators.

In a fundraising pitch circulated to supporters on Wednesday, RNC Finance Director Katie Walsh said that “our cities need Uber,” the app that allows people to order a taxi, rideshare or private car from their smartphone.

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“However, government officials are trying to block Uber from providing services simply because it’s cutting into the taxi unions' profits,” Walsh wrote. “Enough is enough. We don’t need the intrusive government implementing any more strangling regulations, limiting consumer choices or interfering in the free market.”

A link in the email pitch leads to a fundraising page where the GOP asks for support to “stop liberal bureaucrats from putting up roadblocks to innovation and free enterprise.”

An RNC spokeswoman said the party had not consulted with Uber ahead of time on the effort but was creating the petition to support “free market, pro-growth principles that Uber is employing.”

The committee on Wednesday kicked off its summer meeting in Chicago, where Uber has squared off against legislators trying to limit its operations.

“When legislators over-regulate, it’s consumers who pay the price,” RNC Chairman Reince Priebus said in a statement sent to The Hill.

“The issue is larger than Uber. ... Government has a role to play, but that role isn’t to protect the status quo. It should be consumers, not government bureaucrats or legislators, that decide what companies get our business,” he added.

For Uber, the company is glad to have people talk about it positively. 

“Everyone loves Uber,” spokesman Lane Kasselman said.

The company has so far had a relatively light political footprint, and none of its executives have given more than $500 to any federal candidate since the company’s founding, according to data compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics.

Uber is currently in 42 countries and dozens of U.S. cities, but it has met pushback from taxi companies and local regulators who say that a lack of oversight could hurt consumers.

That’s caused the firm to become a cause célèbre for some tech advocates, who have seen its standoff with regulators as a battle between entrenched interests and upstart innovators trying to grow the economy.

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