In the 2008 presidential election campaign, the Unity08 Section 527 corporation tried to elect its own president and vice president of the United States in party by coordinating a media campaign of fawningly praiseful messages by beltway-connected insiders who often had personal connections of some sort to the Unity08 leadership.
In the dawning 2012 presidential election campaign, Americans Elect, the direct successor to Unity08, is also trying to get its own president and vice president of the United States elected. Americans Elect just had its first media mention this week in an opinion piece written by Raymond Learsy for the Huffington Post:
People throughout the land understand that the political system is broken, and Americans throughout the length and breadth of the country, that their government no longer speaks for them no matter which party happens to be in power. They feel the system is gamed from within, for and about those who have access and the money to follow through to assure their parochial interests are taken into account and acted upon. How those interests impact the greater good has become dangerously secondary. Checks and balances seem to have gone by the board long ago.
Grass roots movements are beginning to stubbornly emerge from the depths of these frustrations of which I have touched on only a few, as the list could go on almost endlessly. Yes, there are the Tea Parties, and they should be listened to in order to begin to understand how people feel. But out there something much more significant is beginning to take hold. A movement new to many, headed by people of impeccable credentials who are devising a program using the new age technology to bring all Americans back into the political process in a meaningful way and most importantly in a way that each American can once again feel that he/she as a citizen has the stature and sense of prideful responsibility that his vote was meant to convey unto him as a meaningful participant in the process of nationhood.
The new organization is called “Americans Elect”. I don’t want to steal its thunder because it can much better directly convey its goals and points of engagement. It has the potential of becoming the salutary wave of America’s political future. Their contact information is given as Kahlil.Byrd@AmericansElect.org.
Let’s leave aside the substance of Learsy’s appeal for a moment and consider a few interesting details. Although it has been in existence as “Unity08″ and then the “Unity12 Task Force” for more than 5 years, the group renamed itself as “Americans Elect” only a few weeks ago. Before Learsy wrote his piece in the Huffington Post, Google listed not one indexed web page linking in to the Americans Elect web site. A Proquest newsbank search through more than 1100 newspapers, wire services and the PR Newswire shows no article, wire report or press release in the past three months mentioning “Americans Elect.” A Google News search for “Americans Elect” articles in the last month, either online or offline, also reveals no mentions. Even a blog search shows that before Learsy’s post, there was no mention of “Americans Elect” other than in posts here at Irregular Times. There were no “Americans Elect” twitter posts before Learsy wrote his essay. On Facebook, Americans Elect started its own page, but that was on August 11, three days after Learsy’s essay appeared at Huffington Post. The Americans Elect Facebook page contains no substantive information. As soon as the Americans Elect web page appeared with a solicitation for people to sign up for e-mail newsletters about the group, I subscribed; judging from the state of my inbox, no e-mail newsletters have been sent out yet. So how did Raymond Learsy became exposed enough to the idea of Americans Elect that he could write in glowing terms about it?
In his essay boosting Americans Elect, Learsy also referred to an e-mail address (Kahlil.Byrd@AmericansElect.org) that is not only not named anywhere on any other internet page (including the Americans Elect web page and Facebook page), but is also not referenced in Americans Elect’s web page “whois” registration or in Americans Elect’s IRS registration documents. How does Raymond Learsy know of this e-mail address?
I’ve asked Raymond Learsy these questions a few times by e-mail, and he’s responded in two ways. First, he offered the cryptic:
Try Wendy Drake
The Webster Group
and second, the definitional:
It is a contact address given by “Americans Elect” for those interested in obtaining additional information on “Americans Elect”.
And third, not responding at all. The Webster Group hasn’t returned my calls on this matter either.
What can we make of this? To be clear, I’m not suggesting that Raymond Learsy is somehow part of some nefarious conspiracy, subterfuge or other underhanded or insincere activity. That would be unfair, and I have no reason to doubt Learsy’s sincerity. Rather, I’m trying to piece together the manner in which information about Americans Elect flows from the organization itself to a person writing a prominently-placed essay on a major political opinion website.
Here’s what we know:
1. If Americans Elect is providing such contact information and other communications to Learsy (and perhaps others), it must be doing so offline, since such communications are not taking place online.
2. Wendy Drake of the Webster Group is somehow involved.
Wendy Drake is the President of the Webster Group, a Washington, DC consulting company “serving corporate, government and nonprofit clients in Washington, D.C. and beyond” that offers services in “core messaging and marketing” and “fundraising and development planning”:
We help clients tackle their biggest challenges by employing a turnkey approach to create and implement innovative strategies, develop cost effective solutions, and deliver value-added services with measurable results and a visible return on investment.
Webster Group clients include the Heritage Foundation, the Department of Homeland Security, 3Com, the State Department, the Aspen Institute and Allied Capital.
Raymond Learsy’s essay proclaims that Americans Elect is a “grass roots movement” “beginning to stubbornly emerge from the depths” to fight against a “system gamed from within, for and about those who have access and the money to follow through to assure their parochial interests are taken into account and acted upon.”
When I see an organization funded solely by the executive of a private capital investment firm using the hired services of a DC marketing and fundraising firm, these aren’t the first words I’d use to characterize it.