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Elon Musk and PayPal chum quit Zuckerberg's immigration gang

Couldn't stomach Fwd.us' political tactics

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Elon Musk, the billionaire backing electric cars and cheap space travel, has quit the Fwd.us political pressure group fronted by Mark Zuckerberg after it began buying campaign commercials supporting Big Oil.

The Behoodied One announced the Fwd.us group last month to push for comprehensive immigration reforms (especially for technology visas), as well as better STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) education, and more investment in scientific research.

Musk was named as one of the supporters of the group, which also includes Google's Eric Schmidt, Microsoft's Steve Ballmer and Yahoo!'s Marissa Meyer. But Reuters reports that he and former PayPal colleague (and now Yammer founder) David Sacks have withdrawn support after the group paid for political adverts that have nothing to do with science and technology.

"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.

"Fwd.us remains totally committed to supporting a bipartisan policy agenda that will boost the knowledge economy, including comprehensive immigration reform."

The adverts in question were purchased for Senators Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Mark Begich (D-AK) through front groups and promoted the highly-controversial Keystone XL tar-sands oil pipeline and drilling in the Alaska National Wildlife Preserve, respectively. It was a schmooze too far for Musk.

You might ask why Fwd.us is buying these adverts, but it’s a standard political tactic used far too often in US politics. By gifting the footage, the group hopes to win over the influential senators and gain their vote in immigration reform, which is going through the Senate at the moment.

"Our advertising decisions are being made by a very smart team of political operatives who know that passing major reform will require some different and innovative tactics," said Fwd.us co-founder Jim Breyer, a venture capitalist at Accel Partners, in an emailed statement.

The adverts may have been smart political practice, but the group's actions haven't just annoyed Musk. The choice of topics angered the Sierra Club so much they set up a Facebook protest page and have been bombarding Zuckerberg with messages asking him to stop advertising for the oil industry. ®

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