clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

To fix politics, you have to fix fundraising, Crowdpac CEO Steve Hilton says

Crowdpac is trying to make it easier for outsiders to raise money and run for political office.


With one grueling election in the rearview mirror, some political mavens are already looking ahead to the 2018 midterms. Crowdpac CEO Steve Hilton wants to help get more people on the campaign trail.

Speaking on the latest episode of Recode Decode, hosted by Kara Swisher, Hilton — a former adviser to British Prime Minister David Cameron — explained how his site is trying to democratize political fundraising.

“Money underpins a huge proportion of what’s wrong with politics,” Hilton said. “The need to raise money, whether that’s huge amounts of money, as is needed in the U.S. to run for federal office, or even small amounts at the state level — you’ve got to raise money to do your campaign. And typically, that forces you to do things and say things and take positions that are not actually what you believe.”

“It really keeps in place these structures of politics, whether that’s traditional parties or an obligation to the donors,” he added.

You can listen to Recode Decode on Apple Podcasts, Google Play Music, TuneIn, Stitcher and SoundCloud.

Hilton said the goal of Crowdpac is to help outsiders raise money and start running for office, bringing more diverse voices into the fray. The current poster child for that ethos is Utahn doctor Kathryn Allen, a first-time candidate who has raised more than half a million dollars on Crowdpac to run against Rep. Jason Chaffetz (yes, the iPhone health care guy).

(Update: Or not. Chaffetz announced Wednesday morning that he won’t run in 2018).

Hilton was dismissive of past efforts by technologists to totally “disrupt” politics because “there’s this thing called the Constitution.”

“In the end, it’s democracy and there are elections and there are ballots and you’ve got to understand how that all works, rather than pretend like you can completely make that go away and invent some whole new thing through tech that replaces the system,” he said. “We’ve tried really hard to work within the system.”

If you like this show, you should also sample our other podcasts:

If you like what we’re doing, please write a review on Apple Podcasts — and if you don’t, just tweet-strafe Kara.

This article originally appeared on

Sign up for the newsletter Sign up for Vox Recommends

Get curated picks of the best Vox journalism to read, watch, and listen to every week, from our editors.