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Congress has developed a reputation for its general lack of tech experience, but a new political action committee wants to fix that by starting at the top.

The group, 314 Action, plans to put money behind candidates who can keep up with complex technology issues at a time when they inevitably land on the mainstream legislative agenda.

Congress continues to make the need for more STEM expertise apparent as members’ questioning in hearings on tech issues falls short, says Shaughnessy Naughton, president of 314 Action, which brands itself as a Democratic PAC focused on electing “more leaders to the U.S. Senate, House, State Executive and Legislative offices who come from STEM backgrounds.” Even though some congressional offices might have tech-savvy staffers, 314 Action’s goal is more focused on bringing in new elected officials with that knowledge.

Naughton pointed in particular to questions asked of Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg during multiple hearings on Capitol Hill earlier this year amid the Cambridge Analytica data scandal.

“When you watch those Facebook hearings, that was just, you know, beyond embarrassment,” she told FedScoop. “It’s really reckless that so many of our legislators really don’t understand fundamental aspects of our modern economy.”

Naughton, an entrepreneur with a degree in chemistry, has made two unsuccessful bids for Congress. But she has used that experience from running in founding 314 Action, which has endorsed several candidates with technology backgrounds in their runs for House seats in 2018.

314 Action’s original focus was more on science and medicine, given Naughton’s background. But she said the organization is “really encouraged” to see technologists and engineers step up.

“Whether it comes to privacy or automation or technology, I think having people that understand how we can benefit but also how we have to prepare for technology and the changes that it brings” is important, Naughton said.

So far the PAC has donated $162,000 directly to about three dozen Democratic candidates in 2018, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. Most of those donations were $5,000 or $10,000.

Original Article