“If you’re rich, serious about changing the world and think our two-party tyranny has become part of the problem, there’s no better time to invest in disruptive political innovation.”
So wrote Matt Miller in the Washington Post this week without irony, promoting the prospects of the Americans Elect corporation as it seeks to run its own candidate for President of the United States in 2012. The sole donor to Americans Elect that’s been formally acknowledged is the billionaire Peter Ackerman, who contributed $1.55 million of his own money to Americans Elect before he converted the organization from a Section 527 organization to a Section 501c4 corporation eleven months ago, preventing any further public disclosure of contributions and expenditures.
Peter Ackerman is, as Matt Miller suggests, “rich, serious about changing the world and” determined to “invest in disruptive political innovation.” But what is the standard by which such disruptions should be made in America? Should the use of money by these rich people to disrupt the American political be kept a secret from the American public, or should such their campaign spending be disclosed? In its bylaws, Americans Elect has laid out the standard it would prefer to use for making such a decision — a two-thirds vote of “delegates,” people signed up on the Americans Elect website to participate in its 2012 online presidential nomination:
Where these Bylaws provide for ratification by the Delegates, except on votes regarding nomination or endorsement of a particular candidate, the report of Committee shall be deemed adopted except by negative vote of two-thirds (2/3) of all registered Delegates….
… draft of proposed convention rules subject to ratification and approval of the Delegates in accordance with these Bylaws…. The Rules Committee may conduct hearings to solicit the views of Delegates and Members and shall draft and report detailed rules of each convention, subject to ratification of the Delegates…. The Bylaws of Americans Elect may be adopted, amended, or repealed by a majority vote of Directors then in office, subject to ratification by the Delegates…. All decisions of the Chair shall be binding, subject only to ratification by the Delegates in accordance with these Bylaws.
So how do two-thirds (2/3) of the registered members of Americans Elect feel about political groups disclosing their campaign donations? It turns out that the Americans Elect online survey of members entitled “My Colors” provides an answer. One of the questions asked in that survey of members reads as follows:
“Do you think the following real or proposed campaign finance rule is acceptable or unacceptable? All campaign donations should be made public.”
Americans Elect has begun displaying all the responses of its members in two ways:
1. The percentage choosing each response, and
2. The top response for each state.
On September 1 2011, a day after the question had been rolled out for Americans Elect membership to answer, the responses looked like this:
And this morning of September 3 2011, three days into polling, responses look like this:
The results are unequivocal: 95% of responses by Americans Elect membership agree with the proposed campaign finance rule that “All campaign donations should be made public.” Only 3% disagree with that proposal. The top response in every single state of the Union, and Washington DC too, is agreement with that proposed campaign finance rule.
On September 1, the day after it rolled out its question, Americans Elect announced on Facebook that it had topped the 100,000 member mark, so we know we’re not talking about the responses of a small number of people here.
Americans Elect membership has blown past the two-thirds (2/3) standard for changing the bylaws through ratification. It’s blown through a three-fourths standard. It’s blown through a four-fifths standard, a five-sixths standard and a nine-tenths standard. A whopping nineteen out of twenty (19/20) members have said they support a proposed rule that “All campaign donations should be made public.”
These are the members of Americans Elect. This is their voice. It surpasses the bylaws’ standard of ratification.
But as of today, neither the names of donors to Americans Elect nor the amount of their donations has been disclosed. Not fully, and not partially. Not a single person is named as a funder of Americans Elect on its website. Not a single dollar amount of a contribution has been identified by Americans Elect on its website.
Americans Elect has told the American people that when they sign up, they become the “true boss” of Americans Elect:
But you are the boss. It will be your voice and your choice that will determine the outcome.
Americans Elect has spoken. 95% of Americans Elect says it wants all campaign donations to be made public.
Will Americans Elect listen to its “true boss”? Will Americans Elect comply?