LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman would like to see Donald Trump's tax returns, and he's willing to pay up to $5 million for the opportunity.
On Monday, Hoffman pledged his support for a Crowdpac.com crowdfunding campaign aimed at pressuring Trump into releasing his tax returns. The campaign was started by a US military veteran named Pete Kiernan, who says he’ll donate the cash — almost $5,000 so far — to 10 veterans affairs groups if Trump releases his tax returns.
“Trump claims to love veterans,” reads Kiernan’s Crowdpac.com page, “and so we’re asking him to put his money where his mouth is.”
If Kiernan succeeds and Trump releases his tax returns, Hoffman — whose net worth increased by $800 million in a single day this year when Microsoft acquired LinkedIn — says he will quintuple the sum raised. So, if the Crowdpac campaign meets its goal of $25,000, and if Trump makes public documents that he’s so far vehemently insisted on keeping private, Hoffman would donate $125,000; the more money the campaign raises, the more Hoffman will donate, with a cap at $5 million.
In a post on Medium published Monday, Hoffman noted that $5 million is the same amount that Trump himself pledged to donate to charity during the 2012 election if President Obama agreed to his request to release college records and passport documents.
“Given Trump's vocal support of veterans, I imagine he will recognize the great good that can come from Kiernan's proposal,” Hoffman writes. “But taking Trump's own 2012 offer to President Obama into account, I'd like to assist Kiernan in his campaign.”
It’s worth noting that Hoffman was an early investor in Crowdpac, which bills itself as a crowdfunding platform designed for political campaigns. Hoffman is a partner at Greylock Partners, but participated in Crowdpac’s $6 million Series A in early 2016 as an independent investor.
It’s also worth noting that this is not the first Crowdpac campaign Hoffman has publicly involved himself in — or even the first this month. Last week, Hoffman announced that he would donate $25,000 to a campaign to recall Judge Aaron Persky, who presided over the Stanford sexual assault case. As of this writing, that campaign has amassed $40,000 toward its $250,000 goal.
Though Hoffman, as an investor, stands to profit from Crowdpac’s success, some Silicon Valley luminaries see his investment in progressive political causes as a worthy use of his wealth:
The deadline for the Crowdpac campaign is Oct. 19, the date of the final presidential debate.
Caroline O'Donovan is a senior technology reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in San Francisco.
Contact Caroline O'Donovan at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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