This New York Times piece (H/T Knight Science Journalism Tracker) once again describes the how and why behind scientist involvement (and non-involvement) in elected office. Nothing terribly novel in that. However, you may note the photo caption that references Ben Franklin’s List. Turns out the former Representative and Congressional Physics Caucus member Bill Foster went a little further with his science-oriented political action committee than I’d previously known. I’m not sure how far things have gone, as I can’t find mention of it on the FEC website (though I don’t know the extent of their online filings, or if PACs that haven’t received money must file anything).
Part of the problem was that it wasn’t named Albert’s List, as had originally been discussed. While you can debate which of America’s Founding Fathers were the most scientific, technical or inventive, Ben Franklin belongs in that conversation. While the kite experiment may only have been described by Franklin, he did extensive research and work in electricity and physics. He certainly combined scientific work with public service more than Albert Einstein.
Apparently before Foster opted to try and reclaim his former Congressional seat, he did form Ben Franklin’s List with former Representative and Congressional Physics Caucus member Vern Ehlers. This was the right move, as Foster is a Democrat and Ehlers a Republican. Any truly science-oriented PAC will put science first rather than party. But Ehlers is not inclined to run the PAC on his own (he actually left Washington once out of office), so the effort will likely remain on hold until at least 2013. Unless there’s some prominent Democratic scientist with elective experience