The administrator account in the forums of ProVote America, a company gathering signatures for the Americans Elect party qualification effort in California, has written descriptions of the Americans Elect petition and a pitch for it as the group tries to gain ballot access for its 2012 presidential candidates:
Most likely written by ProVote America chief Michael C. Rhodes, they declare:
Today, I got more signatures per hour than I have in several years for California. After trying a few variations, my pitch came down to “I just need ONE signature to let some independent candidates run for office, rather than just Democrats and Republicans.” Emphasis was on the word “one” because often people are asked to sign several petitions at once which takes time. It was also more effective to say “I need” versus “We need”.
One out of five people signed the petition with that message. A few people asked why there was no text like they see when signing an initiative petition. I took 15 seconds to explain that this petition is not an initiative, it’s just a nomination for a grassroots organization that wants to open the door for non-partisan candidates regardless of their platform.
A growing number of wealthy people are standing up against this self-serving factional warfare, calling themselves Americans Elect. They eschew parties altogether and go by the nickname “No Labels”. After they gain ballot access, they will form a platform and nominate candidates by a popular vote of the people rather than delegates. Instead of parties passing bad laws to save face or repealing good laws to weaken the standing of the opposition, the voters will steer the platform.
No Labels, for those of you who may not know, is a 501c4 organization making many of the same claims about “hyperpartisanship” as Americans Elect and making no disclosures about its contributors just like Americans Elect. Unlike Americans Elect, which aims to arrange the election of its own presidential candidate in 2012, No Labels aims to promote the election of its preferred congressional candidates in 2012.
And finally, “admin” declares in the on-site messaging system:
anybody with a large corporation is secretly crapping their pants at what our government is doing to the dollar … there are billionaires and near billionaires backing this effort. money is not a problem.
Simply because ProVote America makes these declarations does not, of course, make them so. But those declarations do pose a quandary for Americans Elect. If these claims are true, then it poses a public relations problem for Americans Elect, since not too many Americans are keen to support the political interference of billionaires in both the presidency and Congress. If these claims are not true, then it poses a reliability problem for Americans Elect: if the group cannot keep its message straight in its operations, how well can we expect it to choreograph the first national online political election in American history in just one year’s time?
In conversation this afternoon with No Labels headquartes, the group declared to me that there was “absolutely not” any “direct or indrect” connection between No Labels or Americans Elect. The information the administration of ProVote America is providing to petition gatherers in California may or may not be accurate, but this is the message being passed on to the people of California through petition gatherers. When Americans Elect refuses to communicate with the public itself and does not disclose its contributors or expenditures, this may be the closest we can get to a reckoning of the corporation and its plan for some time.
I’ve asked for further clarification on this point from No Labels, and will do my best to get clarification from Americans Elect (although the second group has been remarkably uncommunicative). I’ll share with you what I find out.
Update, 8:19 PM: When I called No Labels I adopted a voice of authority and was put through to Kevin Walling without deception but also without identifying myself (I wasn’t asked); Walling gave me the No Labels reaction I quote above. At the end of our conversation, Walling halted and asked me who I was, at which point I truthfully told him. Walling put me on hold, and after about two minutes came back on the line to tell me tersely that all “press inquiries” shoud be directed to email@example.com, who I promptly wrote and who extendedly has not gotten back to me.
I also have written the general email address of Americans Elect as well as Communications Manager Nick Troiano and President/Chairman/Director Peter Ackerman, and they have as usual not responded at all.