|The Liberal Backlash Against Mark Zuckerberg Intensifies|
|Michael Falcone||May 7, 2013, 4:24 PM|
ABC News' Michael Falcone reports:
A coalition of liberal activist groups - including MoveOn.Org, Progressives United, the Sierra Club, the League of Conservation Voters, Democracy for America, CREDO, 350.org and Presente - want to hit Mark Zuckerberg where it hurts.
The groups announced Tuesday that they plan to pull their existing paid ads from Facebook or hold off on purchasing new ones for at least two weeks.
Members of the coalition are furious at Zuckerberg and his new pro-immigration reform group, FWD.us, for running television commercials praising senators for opposing Obamacare and supporting an expansion of the Keystone oil pipeline and drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
The ads were designed to provide political cover to politicians like Sen. Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina, and Sen. Mark Begich, Democrat of Alaska, for a politically-risky vote in favor of a comprehensive immigration reform bill, which will make its way to the Senate Judiciary Committee this week. The bill's authors, the so-called "Gang Of Eight," are attempting to drum up as much support as possible for the legislation in the hopes that a decisive vote in the Senate will help persuade reluctant House members to follow suit.
"Leaders in the technology community have every right to talk about how immigration reform will benefit their businesses," said former Democratic Sen. Russ Feingold, founder of Progressives United, one of the leaders of the anti-Zuckerberg effort. "But instead, FWD.us has chosen a strategy that's condescending to voters and counterproductive to the cause of reform."
The ads, paid for by FWD.us and produced by a pair of affiliated groups (one conservative and one liberal), are already off the air. They ran for one week, which, according to a FWD.us source, was the plan all along.
But leaders of the liberal coalition are not satisfied.
Nick Berning, communications director for MoveOn.org, called Zuckerberg's tactics "deeply disturbing." Arshad Hasan, executive director of Democracy for America, said the Facebook founder's political group has exhibited "cynical disrespect of voters." And the Sierra Club's Executive Director Michael Brune accused the Silicon Valley billionaire of "selling out a healthy future for all of our families for a few political points."
Progressives United spokesman Josh Orton called on Zuckerberg and FWD.us. to "disavow the cynical strategy. If they don't, it's really anyone's guess which progressive issue will be thrown under the bus next."
A spokeswoman for another group, CREDO, a mobile phone company with an activist bent, said the groups wants FWD.us to "not only repudiate their cynical political strategy but pledge to never again run an ad in support of the Keystone XL pipeline."
CREDO is also calling on Zuckerberg to meet with the coalition partners to address their concerns.