Zuckerberg commits $45 million to ending mass incarceration, housing crisis: report

Zuckerberg commits $45 million to ending mass incarceration, housing crisis: report
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Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has committed $45 million to ending mass incarceration and fixing the affordable housing crisis.

According to Vice News, which first reported the sum, Zuckerberg gave the money through the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative (CZI), the philanthropic company founded by Zuckerberg and his wife. Most of the $45 million was spent in the first 10 months of 2017.

“I think that the sort of political scuttlebutt has been kind of silly both in terms of what we’re doing and Mark’s travel,” former President Obama's campaign manager David Plouffe, the head of CZI’s political work, told Vice News. “You can’t manage a fictitious campaign.”

The news is particularly significant because, despite its philanthropic commitments, the organization is incorporated as a private limited liability corporation, or LLC  — meaning it does not have the same transparency requirements as its nonprofit counterparts such as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and can use funds for political reasons such as lobbying and campaign contributions. 

The organization, founded in 2015, has been transparent in where and how it’s spending its money thus far, but is doing so voluntarily. 

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“Clearly, CZI wants the latitude to advocate on political and social issues and they don’t want to have to worry about doing backflips to meet the requirements to reach tax-exempt status,” Sheila Krumholz, the executive director of the watchdog Center for Responsive Politics, told Vice News. “Now they can be political; they just have to pay taxes on it.”

Criminal justice reform and the housing crisis have both widely affected Americans. The left and the right have different approaches to how they believe the issues should be addressed. Liberals often see high incarceration rates as an issue of over-policing for nonviolent crimes, while conservatives often call for increased personal responsibility to end high prison rates. 

Because of CZI’s status as an LLC, it isn't required to heed political considerations in how it tries to mitigate both issues.