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Americans Elect Ballot Signatures Being Gathered by “Conservative” ProVote America and Allied Data Services

A series of Craigslist advertisements document that a petition gathering company associated with conservative attempts to exploit the Green Party in Texas is now gathering signatures to put Americans Elect on the presidential ballot in California.

March 28 2011:

ProVote America is a leading edge petition management group that is hiring independent contractors to collect signatures on petitions. We are currently working to gain ballot access for a grassroots organization called Americans Elect so they can run candidates next year. What makes this campaign so special is that rather than yet another party with a preset platform and which dictates the candidates, the platform and candidates will be chosen by the voters through an online convention. Sort of like American Idol takes on Washington.

April 4 2011:

Americans Elect wants to open up the field of candidates to include those who don’t fit in the extreme right or left. ProVote America is a signature gathering firm that is hiring people to collect thousands of signatures for their ballot access. We work on lots of different petitions. Not only does this work pay well, it is fun and fulfilling. You would be paid for every signature plus an override for everybody you bring on board and coach, but not more than you earn from your own work.

April 4 2011:

ProVote America is immediately hiring activists to collect signatures on a petition to allow non-partisan candidates to run next year based on a platform determined by popular vote rather than delegates picking candidates for us. This is an extremely easy petition, as many voters are fed up with the stalemate between the Republicans and Democrats while the country races toward insolvency. The campaign just started, and we are offering a $100 bonus to the first ten petition circulators who submit 1,000 signatures at 75%+ validity (the percentage of signatures that match the voter rolls).

April 4 2011:

ProVote America organizes petition drives and get-out-the-vote campaigns. We are looking for outgoing people to collect signatures in busy locations to give Americans Elect ballot access to run national candidates. Americans Elect will then turn its ballot access over to the voters, who will determine its platform and nominate its candidates through a public, online convention. This has never been done before in the history of the U.S., and the goal is to move past the partisan brinkmanship that threatens our economy.

Pay is based per signature, with the ability to double your income if you refer enough other people to also work with our organization.

April 7 2011:

ProVote America is helping organize a statewide petition for Americans Elect. This is good-paying and personally rewarding work to better our country. Like other companies, we are paying $1.25 per signature.

What is ProVote America?
ProVote America describes itself on its LinkedIn profile as a company working “on behalf of conservative central committees” that refuses offer its services when that “would compete with our other clients”:

ProVote America describes itself as linked to Allied Data Service, committed to non-competition across multiple clients, and dedicated to work with conservative political bodies

On its Facebook Page, ProVote America describes itself as founded by veteran petition collector Michael C. Rhodes as “a new venture unconcerned with profit.” In the past, Rhodes has been involved with petition work for conservative political efforts in Colorado and Montana. Rhodes has explained that he would not work on campaigns for abortion or same-sex marriage equality, since he is politically opposed to both. Shortly after founding ProVote America, Rhodes communicated enthusiasm for working with conservative and tea party causes in his online forum [link behind registration wall]:

Michael Rhodes just declares I just created a group for ProVote America. We can use it to network to conservative political organizations. Now, how to track who gets credit for referrals through that portal? Tomorrow is supposed to be rainy. Let's see if we can figure that out and start networking. I've already started contacting the Tea Party Patriots.

where (yesterday writing under the account name of “admin”) he also explained that he is a participant in the Tea Party:

admin account of Michael C. Rhodes posts to declare himself a "Tea Partier"

Michael C. Rhodes is also listed on a whois profile as the responsible party at Allied Data Service, the company under whose architecture ProVote America is established. Allied Data Services cites as its first case study work done from “the beginning of the drive” to put the Texas Green Party on the ballot in 2010. This ballot drive has come under scrutiny by Mother Jones, the Burnt Orange Report and the Lone Star Project for allegedly being funded by Republicans as a counterweight against Democratic Party candidates.

Michael C. Rhodes and ProVote America [link behind registration wall] are paying $1.00 to $1.25 per valid signature on the Americans Elect ballot petition in California:
Signature Gatherers are being paid between $1.00 and $1.25 per signature for the Americans Elect presidential ballot petition in California

To be clear, Michael Rhodes and his companies are certainly within their rights to participate in paid signature gathering efforts for Americans Elect. It is interesting to note that someone who describes himself and his company as conservatively-oriented is acting on behalf of Americans Elect.

I have left a message with ProVote America asking for Rhodes’ perceptions on the Americans Elect signature-gathering process in California. I haven’t received a call back; I’ll let you know if I do.

23 comments to Americans Elect Ballot Signatures Being Gathered by “Conservative” ProVote America and Allied Data Services

  • Ore

    Interesting.

    I’m actually somewhat relieved to hear ProVote America is Michael Rhodes. I was worried it might be a scam-artist like Mark Jacoby or something. I don’t know Michael Rhodes personally and have never worked with him, but have heard his name over the years, mixed things, some bad some good.

    He’s putting way too much information online about this stuff, I don’t like that at all. I talk to the press about this stuff for the lulz and because it doesn’t effect me one way or the other if this campaign ends due to controversy, but he is setting himself up for some problems down the road I think.

    His claim that most circulators are making $1000+/week is utter crap. That’s like 800+ signatures per week. Guys who work in front of big box stores 8+ hours per day six to seven days per week can do that but the average circulator certainly isn’t, most of the professional petitioners I am talking to are barely working on this petition, waiting for better stuff to hit the ground. And a manager certainly wont have the time to petition all day, since turn ins, processing, validity, dealing with circulators, etc eats away a lot of time.

    The ads ProVote America has posted are concerning because they are expecting big money and the most common way to get big money is to rip circulators and small time managers off. Petitioners working on this Americans Elect petition are simply making enough to pay for living expenses, nothing more.

    • ProVote

      Your right about having too much information up. I updated my website so it just points to Jim’s blog and a couple others to let petitioners make up their own mind about the campaign.

  • TOOL

    Rhodes is a pimp and his lackeys are his HOs. So a pimp will always paint a beautiful picture so his Ho can go out and do his dirty work to make him some money. His claims must be bogus or they are just slamming people. Hey the other guys were saying Repeal Prop 8 to get college kids to sign papers and I bet they were tricked these college kids into signing this Americans Elect Petition.

    • Ore

      There is no reason for circulators to lie about this petition, especially on college campuses. At its surface, this isn’t exactly an objectionable issue. Believe it or not someone would actually get less signatures if they pitched it as a prop 8 repeal petition. The gay marriage issue is more emotionally driven – on both sides – which means more conversation with the people you stop and therefore less people you can get signatures from.

      Ideally a petitioner wants to keep conversation to a minimum. Make a short one sentence pitch, once the person is signing go onto the next person, and the next, and the next. Candidate and party qualification petitions are very good for this type of petitioning. I am not working on this Americans Elect campaign but I suspect it is very easy to get signatures on it without lying about what it is.

    • circulatinmg since '92

      If you have EVER circulated a petition. You can clearly see Mr. Rhodes is stating the truth. $1000 per week states it is a good petition and someone has a GOOD SPOT. It isn’t that complicated.

  • ProVote

    Since this article is about me, I have a few things to say. First, if Americans Elect doesn’t make a public campaign, they can’t win. They fail just for looking suspicious even if their cause is noble. Allied Data Service is a software service that has nothing to do with the campaign and has no political bent. ProVote America works on nearly as many liberal causes (to a point) as conservative, but you can’t work doing Democrat and Republican registration drives at the same time, so we side with the Republicans given a choice between the two. The LinkedIn “would compete with our other clients” refers to petition companies. In other words, we will work directly for a proponent but not if a petition company that we sub under is bidding on the job.

    The biggest irony about this and another article is that almost all the information we got was from this website, so this is a circular reference. I didn’t pay attention to the blog author, so when Jim Cook called this morning claiming to be representative of Americans Elect rather than a journalist, I didn’t catch it.

    • If you have audio of me claiming to be a representative of Americans Elect, please share it. You have my voice mail message that I left with you this morning. Please share it with the world to document your claim that I said I was a representative of Americans Elect.

      You won’t, because you can’t, because OBVIOUSLY I’m not part of Americans Elect, and it would be ludicrous of me to say I was. After all, if you’ve read Irregular Times as a source, then you know I’m the guy who stood outside Americans Elect HQ in Washington DC last month and got rebuffed from even knocking on their door by an insistent security guard keeping watch in their luxurious marble-filled Pennsylvania Avenue lobby. I left you a voice mail message this morning, on the phone number you publish in your craigslist ads, asking questions about your relationship to Americans Elect based on what your own website claims about Americans Elect, and asking you to call me with such information.

      I have no relationship with any person or corporation that has any financial or other vested interest in the success or failure of Americans Elect. I am interested in it due to its long history first as Unity08, then as the Unity12 Task Force, and finally as Americans Elect. It’s a twisted history full of very interesting inconsistencies, of which today’s drama is the latest chapter.

      There is clearly some dysfunction on the ground in California as Americans Elect contractors try to get the 501c4 corporation on the ballot as a political party — it’s become clear this evening that even the companies in charge of circulating petitions are being kept in the dark by the corporation. Americans Elect has some cleaning up to do, especially if it wants to build trust for an all-online political convention and presidential nomination in just one year’s time.

      • ProVote

        I didn’t listen to your voice mail; I was handed your number. I can’t speak as to what you said on the recorded voice mail, but you did represent yourself as being high up with Americans Elect when I called you back which is why I kept asking you for information about the organization and asked if you would write something to the circulators about the cause. It’s not like you impersonated an officer, but it is a little underhanded.

        • No, no, no, I most certainly did not ever once characterize myself as a member of or representative of Americans Elect. You called me at about 2-3 pm in the afternoon Eastern Time and said some odd things, and asked me questions about Americans Elect while I walked my son home from the bus stop here way out in the boonies in Maine, where I told you I lived. I answered your questions to the best of my ability, like about when Americans Elect was set to launch itself. The answer I gave you while laughing, “Spring,” is available on Americans Elect’s website. I also openly asked you a series of questions about Americans Elect, which if you didn’t want to take the time to listen to my voice mail should have been your clue that I was not “high up” in the organization of Americans Elect. I mean, otherwise I’d know what Americans Elect was up to, wouldn’t I? I can’t exclude the possibility that you didn’t understand or listen to the words I said, but that’s not my responsibility.

          You’re really pushing the claim now that I set you up, Mr. Rhodes, so if you’re going to pursue that any further, then please, please, please share the audio of that voice mail I left you, Mr. Rhodes. Let everyone hear it. I told you exactly who I was on that voice mail. I told you who I was and I told you I had questions about Americans Elect, and I asked you to call me to share what you knew.

          The next time you want to accuse me of being an impersonator of something, you might want to get your facts straight first, and that starts with listening to the information I made explicitly available. It sounds like maybe the problem you have is with your secretary — not with me.

          • ProVote

            ProVote America is an hour a day hobby, and I don’t have any more time for you.

            • So I guess we won’t be hearing the voice mail, then. There you go, folks. You’ve enjoyed an evening of the mess that’s called the Americans Elect presidential petition in California. It’s coming to your neck of the woods soon.

  • ProVote

    ProVote America doesn’t exist to make a profit; it makes just enough to cover risk. I spent many years collecting signatures both volunteer and mostly paid and as a regional coordinator. In the last few years, I’ve only done sporadic campaigning, and now I just admin a website in my spare time. But I was a damn good petition circulator in my day, and I’d like to pass the baton and try to provide some positive influence in the petition industry and the only way to do that is to have a lot of circulators in the organization. I’d like to see the walls fall down between proponents and circulators, for one. I’d like to see the end of cash paid on the spot for signatures which has degraded quality, and I would like to see professional petitioning restored as a noble calling.

    I don’t know anything about Americans Elect other than what I’ve read on this website which I take with a grain of salt, because it shows unabashed slant toward the Democrats, and a similar blog.

    • The last piece I wrote on Democrats was highly critical, but you’re entitled your perception.

      Every factual claim I make regarding Americans Elect is explicitly sourced. For that reason, whatever opinions I may have about politics in general don’t matter. Follow the sources and you can obtain the facts regarding Americans Elect — and the lack of facts where Americans Elect sequesters itself — for yourself.

    • Ore

      >> I’d like to see the walls fall down between proponents and circulators, for one.

      I agree with this. I don’t like being forced to go through certain managers simply because of geography. There are way too many middle-men in petitioning nowadays.

      >>I’d like to see the end of cash paid on the spot for signatures which has degraded quality, and I would like to see professional petitioning restored as a noble calling.

      This is a mixed bag, in my opinion. Getting rid of the drug addict petitioners would certainly be a good thing but going the PCI route of one-week turnarounds leaves circulators open to getting ripped off, be it validity skimming or outright refusal to pay. I certainly don’t trust Angelo Paparella with my money for that long no matter how much I might like or trust some of his individual managers, for example.

  • TOOL

    “Getting rid of the drug addict petitioners would certainly be a good thing”. Is that the state of petition circulating in America? LMAO!!

    Sounds like ProVote is all hat and no cattle.

  • Oh Snap....

    OH SNAP! Another picture of Americans Elect petitioners. I think they just hire mercenaries to do or collect anything for anyone. These guys would work for ACORN in a heartbeat if you give them enough money. Haven’t we learned from the last election about the hiring practices of ACORN and the GOP. Most of these guys wouldn’t clear anyone’s background checks. Do I really believe some African American guys are going to work to get a third party on the ballot and not vote for Obama? He garnered 97% of the African American vote. 97% chance these guys will vote for Obama, but are making a buck for to get someone’s version of a party on the ballot.

    http://saccityexpress.com/2011/03/30/oh-snappicture-of-the-day-033011/

    • Americans Elect is very clearly hiring people to gather signatures. I fail to see what skin color has to do with that. By your way of thinking, you might as well say that Rep. Allen West has a 97% chance voting for Obama, when that’s clearly not the case.

    • Ore

      If I had to guess I would say they’re either working for Discovery petition management, or a sub of DPM. DPM being the main APC contractor in the Sacramento area.

      Americans Elect is not hiring them, the petition management firm working for Americans Elect is hiring them. They probably are mercenery but that doesn’t mean they are unqualified for other work. The black crews that hit the college circuit in the central valley tend to be very professional and well organized.

      And again, just because you guys don’t like the chairman of Americans Elect and possible connection with other billionaires doesn’t mean everyone else will feel the same way. A viable third party alternative is something a lot of people want right now and the online convention/open primaries could be a cool way of doing it. I started checking out this website since I’m trying to figure out what Americans Elect is all about, but I’m not sold that it is pure evil as of yet.

      • Neither am I, Ore. What I feel is most important is that Americans Elect is up front, transparent and inclusive about its contributors, its expenditures, and its procedures.

  • Anonymous

    I worked (??) with Michael Rhodes of ProVote in Los Angeles and have never seen such incompetency. It was a total waste of time, and to hear him state he doesn’t work for a profit and that he would like to see “professional petitioning restored as a noble calling.” is ridiculous.

  • Anonymous II

    I too have worked for Rhodes; he is about as low as low gets. Very schistey man with a very shady background. He would consistently gyp employees out of pay.

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