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Mark Zuckerberg makes a Washington money, power play
March 25th, 2013
06:22 PM ET

Mark Zuckerberg makes a Washington money, power play

Mark Zuckerberg is now trying to influence your life in a whole new way. The Facebook billionaire just made a major money move into politics, reportedly putting up $20 million of his own fortune to help launch a Silicon Valley non-profit organization.

Sources tell CNN that Zuckerberg is one of a growing group of mega-wealthy tech stars throwing their famous names behind an issue advocacy organization to make waves in Washington. They are forming a 501(c)4, a non-profit organization that can raise unlimited amounts of money to lobby Congress on the issues they care about - starting with immigration.

Earlier this month, Zuckerberg and more than 100 other tech leaders wrote to President Obama urging him to move on immigration reform this year. The letter was organized by a bipartisan political policy network - TechNet - and included CEOs from Yahoo, Oracle, eBay and Microsoft.

"Last century, people talked about the arms race. Well now it's all about the brain race. And so whoever has the best brains, the best minds, the best talent, is going to win that race," says TechNet's Rey Ramsey. "That's what the United States needs, and immigration's at the core of that issue, so when you think of immigration, it's about bringing talent from all over the globe."

After facing criticism for not giving away enough of his fortune, Zuckerberg made a splash on Oprah in 2010, announcing his plan to plunk $100 million into Newark, New Jersey's schools. Two years later, Zuckerberg and his wife gave 18 million Facebook shares, or roughly $500 million dollars, to the Silicon Valley Community Foundation for health and education funding.

But now, it's all about political influence. And Zuckerberg is playing both sides of the aisle, hosting a town hall for President Obama, and a fundraiser for New Jersey's Republican Governor Chris Christie.

Facebook has also been doing a little more "friending," hiring political heavy hitters from both parties, and placing them into top roles and board positions.

In addition to immigration, techies are tackling other issues close to their hearts - education and technology. Jack Dorsey, co-founder of Twittter and founder of Square, joined Zuckerberg, Bill Gates and a host of others in a campaign that encourages schools to teach computer coding.

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