Engine Advocacy and Tusk Ventures Release Senate Races Voter Guide

Report Card Shows U.S. Senate Candidates Fail to Support Critical Issues Facing America’s Tech Community

Graded on Issues like Broadband Access, Intellectual Property & Data Security, Candidates Positions Threaten Millions of Jobs and America’s Innovation Economy

NEW YORK and SAN FRANCISCO – October 12, 2016 – Today, Engine Advocacy and Tusk Ventures released their second “Grading the Candidates on Tech” report card, this time grading the positions that candidates for the U.S. Senate are taking with key issues facing startups and the innovation economy. Twenty-two candidates were rated based on their level of support, understanding, and familiarity with technology and the priorities of the nation’s startup community. Final grades reflect candidates' positions on key issues including broadband access and infrastructure, intellectual property, data security and privacy, and talent acquisition.

The report card showed there were no overall leaders in the pool of 22 candidates and all but four candidates received an “incomplete” on a key issue on their respective report cards. The grades also reveal that many have failed to outline or champion any tech policies throughout their political careers, with data security and privacy receiving the most “incomplete” grades due to the lack of unbridled advocacy in supporting reforms to U.S. government surveillance laws.

Additional highlights by candidate include:

  • Margaret "Maggie" Hassan: Current New Hampshire Governor and Senate candidate, Maggie Hassan received the highest ranking in “Telecom” for pursuing initiatives to expand broadband access for K-12 public schools and supporting “a free and fair Internet” through net neutrality.

  • Senator McCain (R-AZ): Earned the lowest grade on “Intellectual Property” as a result of his opposition to the America Invents Act and his co-sponsorship of PIPA, which attempted to stifle Internet freedoms and innovation by forcing tech companies to police their own users.

  • Russ Feingold: Former Wisconsin Senator Russ Feingold is the only senate candidate to oppose the expansion of governmental surveillance under the Patriot Act when the bill was first introduced in 2001 and has recognized the critical importance of encryption, arguing that forcing companies to build backdoors would weaken security and “be a mistake.”

  • Senator Kirk (R-IL): Has made high-skilled immigration and STEM education focal points of his time in Congress, establishing the STEM Education and Workforce Caucus in 2013. He also co-sponsored the I-Squared Act, which would raise the cap on H-1B visas to accommodate more talented, high-skilled foreign workers and direct fees from the H-1B program towards funding improved STEM education and training.

The conflict between regulators and technology companies is nothing new, but today’s politicians are more distant from the tech sector than ever,” said Bradley Tusk, founder and CEO of Tusk Ventures. “The key issues highlighted in this year’s report card have implications on not only millions of jobs in this country, but also on innovation that is helping to drive our economy. It’s important for voters to make an informed decision at the polls and keep the pressure on Congressional leaders to take legislative action after the election.”

This year’s tech report card also acknowledges candidates who have earned “extra credit” on additional issues impacting entrepreneurs: on-demand economy, autonomous systems, capital access and the Internet of Things (IoT).

"With technology issues becoming ever more visible in Washington, the next Congress will have as big of an impact on the startup sector as any in history,” said Evan Engstrom, executive director of Engine. “Considering how important startups are to the future of our economy, voters need to hold their representatives accountable and ensure that tech is a priority for the next Congress—far too many Senatorial candidates have unknown or problematic positions these important issues.

Click here for the full report card and analysis.


About Tusk Ventures

Tusk Ventures is the first political strategy firm focused primarily on helping startups navigate the political, regulatory, and media hurdles that come with reshaping entrenched industries. Tusk's investment professionals and in-house team of political and regulatory experts partner directly with high-growth companies entering highly regulated sectors and work with them to accomplish their goals through direct advocacy, campaign management, narrative development and strategic execution.

About Engine

Engine is a technology policy, research, and advocacy organization that bridges the gap between policymakers and startups, working with government and a community of high- technology, growth-oriented startups across the nation to support the development of entrepreneurship. Engine creates an environment where technological innovation and entrepreneurship thrive by providing knowledge about the startup economy and constructing smarter public policy. To that end, Engine conducts research, organizes events, and spearheads campaigns to educate elected officials, the entrepreneur community, and the general public on issues vital to fostering technological innovation. To learn more, visit http://engine.is.