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Tuesday June 5, 2018 — California Primary Election
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United States

U.S. House of RepresentativesCandidate for District 12

Photo of Shahid Buttar

Shahid Buttar

17,597 votes (8.5%)
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My Top 3 Priorities

  • Secure social services—including Medicare for All, affordable housing block grants, and housing for homeless veterans—by reclaiming military spending on corporate weapons contracts
  • Fight government and corporate corruption by investigating federal agencies and fraudulent corporate contracts
  • Legalize cannabis to end the racist war on drugs



Profession:lawyer, artist, writer, advocacy director at EFF
Director of Grassroots Advocacy, Electronic Frontier Foundation (2015–current)
Board Member, Defending Rights and Dissent — Appointed position (2015–current)
Board Member, Center for Media Justice — Appointed position (2017–current)
Executive Director, Bill of Rights Defense Committee (2009–2015)
Board Member, Fund for Constitutional Government — Appointed position (2014–2015)
Board Member, American Constitution Society, San Francisco Chapter — Appointed position (2008–2015)
Associate Director, American Constitution Society for Law & Policy (2005–2009)
Counsel, Muslim Advocates (2007–2009)
Board Member, Washington Peace Center — Elected position (2006–2008)
Teaching Assistant, Stanford Constitutional Law Professor Lawrence Lessig (2002–2003)


Stanford Law School Juris Doctor, Law (2003)
Loyola University Chicago Bachelor of Arts, summa cum laude, Major in Political Science, minor in Creative Writing (2000)

Community Activities

Wrote a coalition letter challenging NSA spying, signed by over 50 organizations and cited by the Washington Post (2014–2014)
Published "National Security vs. Democracy in America,", Brennan Center for Justice at NYU Law School (2013–2013)
Initiated a Freedom of Information Act for FBI infiltating religious orgs, ad hoc coalition (2008–2009)
Filed marriage equality case for same sex couples in NY state, Jason West, Mayor New Paltz New York (2004–2004)
Spokesperson for Protests at the Republican National Convention, Grassroots Resistance (2000–2000)


I have been building social movements and speaking truth to power for more than a decade. Since graduating from Stanford Law School in 2003, I have worked in both San Francisco and Washington to advance visionary progressive principles as a legal advocate, a non-profit leader, a grassroots organizer, and a movement artist.

An early advocate for marriage equality for same-sex couples and a prolific organizer in the movement to end warrantless government surveillance, I most recently built a national grassroots network for the digital rights movement as the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s Director of Grassroots Advocacy.

In addition to LGBTQ rights, privacy, and the right to encryption, my work has also advanced immigrant rights, campaign finance reform, government transparency, peace & justice, environmental justice, climate justice, international human rights, and police accountability. My writing has explored issues from the right-wing attack on reproductive freedom to the erosion of voting rights, and from effective counter-terrorism strategies to examples of counter-cultural activism promoting progressive politics at the intersection of art and organizing.

I am an immigrant of Pakistani descent born in the United Kingdom and the youngest of four children. I first came to the Bay Area in 2000 to study law at Stanford and have dedicated my career to fighting for San Francisco's values both in Washington and around the country.

Questions & Answers

Questions from League of Women Voters of California Education Fund (5)

What financing method(s) would you support to repair or improve roads, rails, ports, airports, the electrical grid and other infrastructure in the U.S.?
Answer from Shahid Buttar:

Our country’s dilapidated infrastructure is a threat to public safety, an opportunity for potentially transformative economic stimulus, and a vital opportunity to upgrade our 20th century transportation system for the 21st century.

Crumbling roads and collapsing bridges threaten communities across the U.S. and create challenges for economic inclusion, especially for communities that lack accessible transit infrastructure.

Reflecting on early eras in U.S. history, the creation of the Interstate Highway system represented a massive stimulus package that not only increased transportation efficiencies, but also put a generation to work.

A similar scale investment in high-speed rail today could modernize our interstate transportation system, put a generation back to work, and bring the U.S. up to par with other countries from China and Japan to Germany and France, whose rail systems make America’s look archaic.

Investments in urban transit alternatives are also crucial. Finally, I would favor investing in roads and bridges at a rationalized level relative to other infrastructure investment opportunities given emerging transitions in patterns of car ownership and use. The rise of on demand ride-sharing and the emergence of autonomous vehicles, in particular, might suggest the possibility of smart infrastructure better suited for scalable future use.

What programs or legislation, if any, would you support to help Americans of all ages secure affordable health care?
Answer from Shahid Buttar:

Medicare for All is an imperative not only for human rights, efficiency in healthcare, and improving the competitiveness of businesses, but also a crucial bulwark against the medical costs that tip many people into homelessness.

The richest nation in the world should not be resigned to anyone dying early because they lack access to quality care. Ultimately, access to doctors and medicine should not be allocated to maximize any corporation’s profit, but rather available as a matter of right.

In addition, our current corporate healthcare system is a yoke around the necks of both small and large businesses whose competitiveness would be enhanced under a single payer system. Companies in other countries need not internalize the costs of employee healthcare. Put simply, for-profit healthcare places American businesses at a competitive disadvantage relative to their competitors in other countries.

My only quibble with this question is that healthcare as a matter of right should extend to all Americans, regardless of citizenship. My vision is predicated on the idea that by enabling access to preventive care, a single-payer system can drive down costs across the health care delivery system, both by addressing individual health problems before they grow acute and also by leveraging economies of scale. These effects only take root when services are available broadly, without being contingent on citizenship or immigration status.

Describe an immigration policy that you would support if presented to the House.
Answer from Shahid Buttar:

I am running to represent California’s 12th congressional district as a Muslim immigrant, and present myself as an example of how immigrants demonstrate patriotism, often beyond that understood—let alone emulated—by Americans who take their citizenship and freedoms for granted.

My family immigrated twice: first from Pakistan to England to escape religious discrimination, and then from England to the U.S. for opportunity. I understand migration, both as a reflection of international violence supported by our country’s ignorant foreign policy, and as a simple choice among workers pursuing opportunities.

In the summer of 2017, I became the first advocate in the country to identify the use of cell-site simulators—military surveillance tools that allow law enforcement agencies to spy on cell phone networks—not to investigate a legitimate threat to national security, but rather to track down an undocumented American in Detroit. I have also long sounded an alarm about biometric privacy, which the FBI has assaulted using immigrants as political bait.

In Congress, I will fight for the rights of immigrants, including for a pathway to citizenship, and against “enforcement-first” proposals that aim to embed in comprehensive immigration reform proposals for further militarization of our borders.

Question 4

What programs or legislation would you support to meet the water needs of Californians and the federal water project infrastructure in California?

No answer provided.
Question 5

According to a "Civility In America” survey, 75% of Americans believe that the U.S. has a major civility problem. If you are elected what will do to address this?

No answer provided.

Who gave money to this candidate?


Total money raised: $69,272

Top contributors that gave money to support the candidate, by organization:

Shahid Buttar
Employees of Google
Employees of Juniper Square
Employees of untamed capital llc
Employees of Nasri

More information about contributions

By State:

California 73.64%
District of Columbia 6.55%
Connecticut 4.90%
Texas 4.54%
Other 10.38%

By Size:

Large contributions (79.88%)
Small contributions (20.12%)

By Type:

From organizations (0.00%)
From individuals (100.00%)
Source: MapLight analysis of data from the Federal Election Commission.

Political Beliefs

Political Philosophy

My campaign stands for:

  • Defending the rights of all Americans. As an immigrant who came to the U.S. at the age of two after being  born in England, I am deeply committed to the rights of immigrants—including not only students, but also their families, and workers who enable our economy.
  • The right to dissent, or have a private conversation. Both are enshrined by the First and Fourth Amendments yet violated en masse by agencies (including the NSA, FBI, and DEA).
  • Reproductive freedom and reproductive justice. I am a committed intersectional feminist, committed to challenging marginalization in all its various forms.
  • Worker rights and the right to organize. I have marched in solidarity with striking workers from Washington to San Francisco.
  • Shrinking the military budget. Only by rationalizing Pentagon spending can we avoid otherwise predictable cuts to social services, ensure massive reductions in carbon emissions, and enable programs to help the 99% not only survive—but thrive.
  • Closing U.S. military bases in (some among the 150) foreign countries where our military has an established presence. These installations waste scarce taxpayer dollars and also undermine national security by provoking avoidable criticism of U.S. foreign policy. 
  • Investigating and recovering federal funds from fraudulent corporate weapons programs. Over $1.5 trillion is available over the next 50 years to redirect towards a variety of social services, including veterans’ services & housing, early childhood development, Medicare for All, and federal affordable housing block grants to relieve the urban housing crisis around the country.
  • Ending the federal prohibition of cannabis. Legalization will start rolling back the prison-industrial-slavery complex, while also unleashing a wave of green jobs. Moreover, cannabis is a carbon sequestering, nitrogen fixing crop whose cultivation can serve environmental benefits.
  • Promoting competition and fairness in elections. My platform includes promoting a robust democracy by extending the protections of existing antitrust laws beyond economic markets, to also guard competition and fairness in political markets. Antitrust law already prohibits companies from actions (e.g., dividing territory among horizontal competitors, which undermines consumers) that political parties conduct routinely, even though the stakes—and predictable consequences—are far greater in political markets.

Videos (1)

— May 11, 2018 Shahid for Change

Shahid Buttar's congressional campaign aims to help reclaim the Democratic Party as a voice for working people, instead of corporations.

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