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Americans Elect Leader Daniel Winslow: Our Lack of Transparency is like a Tea Party Revolution

In a tweet sent to Americans Elect chief legal representative Dan Winslow on August 6 2011, “KevinL” linked to the revelation of hedge fund money behind Americans Elect and wrote to Winslow, “Your support of AE exposes you as a hypocrite on transparency & opposing special interests.”

Daniel Winslow compares Americans Elect to the Tea Party: How so? Why do you think the Indians wore facepaint when poking the British King in the eye? AE is fully complying with law.

For Daniel Winslow, Americans Elect is like the revolutionary Tea Party, American Elect’s lack of transparency is like facepaint to hide itself when engaged in revolutionary Tea Party-like activities, and if Americans Elect is “complying with law” a lack of transparency is supposed to be acceptable.

That’s a revealing analogy for its values, and perplexing one in some aspects. For instance, who’s the “British King” in this analogy? Who’s being poked in the eye? You and I are the ones who aren’t being told about the moneyed interests behind Americans Elect. For another thing, Dan Winslow seems to be saying that important political movements in America have to be hidden movements, movements of subterfuge and disguise, in order to succeed.

I don’t think I’d agree. Indeed, I think that political movements of subterfuge and disguise — especially when operated by billionaires and hedge fund managers — are the one of the most troubling political developments of recent times. We should be grateful to Daniel Winslow for having the honesty to say he thinks they’re the solution.

31 thoughts on “Americans Elect Leader Daniel Winslow: Our Lack of Transparency is like a Tea Party Revolution”

  1. Peregrin Wood says:

    Dan Winslow seems to be comparing rank and file Americans Elect members to British redcoats, and corporate executives to revolutionaries. That’s a bad sign of the economic agenda of Americans Elect.

  2. Richard Winger says:

    Dan Winslow is not an officer of Americans Elect. He is the attorney for Americans Elect, which is not the same thing.

    1. Jim says:

      Dan Winslow is listed on Americans Elect’s own web page as one of the top six leaders of Americans Elect. This makes his commentary regarding it to be relevant.

      Lee’s comment below references another post, where I provide exactly the same information — with links to sources — as Lee does.

    2. Jim says:

      But thank you for correcting me on the technical matter. I will refer to him as a “Leader” in the title, which he is.

      1. Lee Mortimer says:

        Jim, you still somewhat miss the point. The word “leader” does not appear anywhere on the AE page you linked to. “Leadership” is the descriptor that seems to apply variously to all 60 names on that page, but with only six delineated as having actual operational roles. “Advisor” might be more accurate for describing “leadership” people like McKinnon.

        1. Jim Cook says:

          What you just described, Lee, is a situation in which Americans Elect names a set of Leaders and then doesn’t describe what they are doing or what they did to merit the Title.

          You shouldn’t have a problem with me that I take Americans Elect at its word. You should have a problem with Americans Elect that they are not disclosing what it is that Mark McKinnon has been doing on Americans Elect’s behalf as a Leader.

        2. Lee says:

          Jim, Please don’t think that I have “a problem” with you. I am merely suggesting that you avoid reading so much into something when there is so little to substantiate your assertion. There is no “title” associated with Mckinnon’s name. He is just lumped in with 53 other people under the amorphous heading of “Leadership” — as one among many who are drawn to AE’s goal of creating a new process for nominating a centrist presidential ticket. It’s not complicated.

          1. Jim Cook says:

            But there is a title. Mark McKinnon is listed under the title of “Leadership” of Americans Elect. That makes him, in a very literal sense, a Leader of Americans Elect. We know this.

            Mark McKinnon has also been appointed to the Americans Elect Board of Advisors. That makes him, in a very literal sense, an Advisor of Americans Elect. We know this.

            If you think Mark McKinnon is just “one among many who are drawn to AE’s goal,” then I suggest you read up a little bit more on Mark McKinnon. He is also President of Maverick Media, a political consulting organization in DC. He is Vice Chair of Hill and Knowlton public relations. He is a coFounder of No Labels, another 501c4 corporation that is meddling in elections without disclosing its donors. He was a senior political advisor to Republican President George W. Bush and Republican presidential candidate John McCain. He is a declared supporter of the Republican Jon Huntsman for President.

            A bio of McKinnon calls him one of “a handful of players behind every big decision, consensus or roadblock in Washington…putting a unique, sometimes hidden stamp on the outcome of today’s debates.”

            Mark McKinnon is not just a folksy folk out there folking among the folk. He is a very well connected political operative. His presence among Americans Elect Leaders is meaningful. His exact duties are also obscured — something that is due to Americans Elect’s lack of transparency on the issue.

  3. Lee Mortimer says:

    Richard makes a good point. Additionally, Mark McKinnon in Jim’s previous post is one of 60 people on the AE page that Jim linked to. He is not even listed with Winslow and the five officers who actually run the AE organization. McKinnon’s inclusion with 54 people on a “Leadership” list underneath those six people with operational roles, suggests they are an “advisory board” that organizations often use to demonstrate their outreach efforts.

    1. Hendrix says:

      By “advisory board” do you mean “ministry of propaganda” ? Because that seems to be a large part of McKinnon’s activity.

      1. Lee Mortimer says:

        I think Jim would like to have informed comments on this website, and I don’t think yours qualifies as that.

        1. Hendrix says:

          Turn on a mainstream news program like Hardball or Meet the Press and you too can be informed of his activities.

        2. Jim Cook says:

          Bingo, Hendrix. You hit the nail on the head.

  4. angloraven says:

    Opinions have been expressed that Americans Elect may turn out to be fraudulent in some way. The organization’s objective is to present voters with a presidential and vice presidential nominee unbeholden to either the Democratic or Republican party. When voters are presented with the choice of voting for the Republican or Democratic nominees or the Americans Elect nominees (and presumably others), they make their choice. Where’s the fraud or scam? If a voter doesn’t care for the Americans Elect nominees, don’t vote for them. As a supporter of Americans Elect I hope that it will select nominees who will overwhelmingly appeal to moderate, independent and liberal voters and knock the socks off the two-party system.

    1. Lee says:

      If I may borrow from Jim Cook’s succinct analysis above, “You hit the nail on the head.”

    2. Jim Cook says:

      I haven’t used the words “fraud” or “scam” as descriptors of Americans Elect, although you’re right that a lot of other people have come to that conclusion. There are a number of people concerned that Americans Elect’s process is non-democratic despite its democratic rhetoric. See this discussion of the bylaws by me, and this other discussion of the bylaws by someone else, for documentation of the problematic aspects of the Americans Elect process.

  5. Lee Mortimer says:

    Well, Jim, you’ve made some additional points — but nothing we didn’t already know from AE’s own reports or from easily available public sources. And, I might add, nothing you say contradicts anything I said. In fact, the link to the “Board of Advisors” confirms what I said that McKinnon is in fact an “advisor” and not as you contend, a “Leader,” a descriptor that appears nowhere on the AE website.

    And what of the fact that McKinnon was an advisor to George Bush and John McCain and recently said the GOP would be smart to nominate Jon Huntsman? AE is trying to attract supporters from both major parties. And if he is a co-founder of “No Labels,” and has belatedly realized what an irrelevant endeavor that is, then he can only be accused of exercising good common sense.

    I will say that when I saw you link to a bio describing McKinnon as wielding a “sometimes hidden stamp on the outcome of today’s debates,” my first thought was — “Oh, my gosh. The Nation or Mother Jones has unearthed some dark and sinister information about this guy.” Turns out it was just an advertisement his PR firm is using to help them peddle their services. What did you expect a PR firm to say about their head honcho? — “He’s just meek and mild and ever so sefl-effacing.”

    Come on, Jim. Where’s the news value from any of this?

    1. Jim Cook says:

      Well, whatever, Lee. You make whatever conclusion you want to. You go right ahead and decide that none of it’s relevant. That’s your right. You don’t have to read this, and if it makes you yawn, you go right ahead and yawn. This is written for people who might be more interested in the information than you.

      P.S. As for the “both parties” hypothesis: I’ve found multiple declarations of support for Republican presidential candidates in 2012 among the leadership of Americans Elect. I haven’t found a single one declaring support for the election of a Democratic candidate for President in 2012.

      Can you find me any member of the Americans Elect leadership declaring support for the election of a Democratic presidential candidate in 2012?

      I’m not asking you to tell me again that I’m being boring and trivial. I got that, check, thank you. I’m asking you to find any member of the Americans Elect leadership declaring support for the election of a Democratic presidential candidate in 2012. If you can’t find that, well, isn’t that curious?

  6. Lee Mortimer says:

    Well, Jim, since Barack Obama is the only Democrat being talked about for president, there probably aren’t too many supporters of other Democratic candidates out there.

    But I believe you have cited Douglas Schoen on several occasions. According to his Wikipedia profile, Schoen “partnered with Mark Penn (who managed Hillary Clinton’s Presidential campaign) . . . has worked on the campaigns of many Democratic Party candidates including Ed Koch and Bill Clinton . . . He also did work for Senator Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign . . . (and) was a consultant for Jeff Green (Democrat) in the 2010 Florida Senate election.”

    If Americans Elect is short on Democratic supporters, that’s a weakness in their effort to be seen as centrist. But it hardly points to anything sinister or conspiratorial. Since your website leans decidedly progressive, and avid supporters such as Hendrix have written, “(Obama) is probably as good as it will get,” your readers should not be displeased if AE were drifting toward nominating a Mitt Romney or a Jon Huntsman — who would split the Republican vote and hand Obama a second term. So, I’m puzzled that your reaction to a lack of Democratic supporters in AE would be, “Isn’t that curious?”

    I am also sad that what I write on your website provokes such a viscerally negative reaction from you. But you do have options. You could bar me from writing anything. You could also ignore me when I do write something. Or you could just ask me to refrain from writing anything on your website. I would respect your request. If I’m not wanted, I can go somewhere else. But I do have to interpret your reactions as a lack openness to views that differ from your own and an inability or unwillingness to respond to ideas you disagree with.

    1. Peregrin Wood says:

      Lee, what Jim is providing is what Americans Elect refuses to provide: Engagement with people who disagree. Americans Elect promotes the idea of “common ground” but creates the appearance of common ground merely by refusing to deal with the ideas of people who disagree with the rather extreme corporatist Americans Elect agenda.

      Jim is in a conversation with you, an authentic conversation. In authentic conversations, people disagree vigorously about ideas.

      What a shame it is that Americans Elect can’t handle authentic conversations with the American people.

    2. Jim Cook says:

      I didn’t give you a visceral reaction. I didn’t slice your guts out. I didn’t vomit. I just:

      1. Told you that you had the right to react however you wanted, and that I write for people who aren’t bored by it. You aren’t everybody.

      2. Noted that there have been multiple leaders of Americans Elect who have come out in support of Republican presidential candidates in 2012, and challenged you to move beyond telling me how boring I am and find anybody in Americans Elect leadership who has come out in support of Democratic presidential candidates in 2012.

      You didn’t meet the challenge, and you won’t, because you can’t, because there is no Americans Elect leader who has come out in support of a Democratic presidential candidate in 2012.

      Instead of just coming out and saying this, you expressed the hope I’d ban you from this website so you could whine about me censoring you. How, frankly, weird. I won’t give you that pleasure.

    3. Hendrix says:

      You seem to be confused by the mixture of realism and idealism. I really would be pleased to see them waste their resources and split the Republican vote. But Ideally there would be Democrats featured among their endorsements because they claim to be some kind of centrist and the answers to their survey questions skew way to the left of Obama.

  7. Ron says:

    All of this “debate” about distinctions between “leader”, “advisor”, and the like give me a headache. One person sees bias because some of the [fill in the blank] are supporters of Republican candidates. Another person sees bias because answers to various questions about delegates’ opinions seem to skew to the “left” (wherever that is).

    But that’s the point. At least to me. Americans Elect could be the most sinister, corrupt political organization to have ever been created. It could also be the best answer to a political system that’s collapsing under its own weight. But if it provides a forum for finding common ground (rather than the divisiveness of this thread), then why not give it a try!?!

    Instead of looking for points of difference, why not spend more of your energy looking for points of agreement … and build from there?

    1. Peregrin Wood says:

      Well, Ron, one point of agreement we’ve identified with Americans Elect is that all the Americans Elect leaders seem to promote corporate special interests to the detriment of working Americans.

      I’d say that’s the kind of common ground that we could do without.

      1. Ron says:

        Your definition of “common ground” differs from mine, I guess. I don’t believe ONE PERSON can announce that we’ve reached it.

    2. Jim Cook says:

      If Americans Elect had a wholly democratic process, one that was not controlled by a corporate board of directors (check out the bylaws), I would agree with you, Ron.

      I am hesitant to say we should all just jump in and go along because the Americans Elect process is controlled by a corporate board of directors. At multiple crucial points the self-appointed Americans Elect corporate board has the right to act contrary to the wishes of a majority, or even a super-majority, of the citizens participating in the Americans Elect process.

  8. Lee Mortimer says:

    Peregrin and Ron: I would like to discuss the bigger issues represented by Americans Elect. But all Jim seems to present is minutiae. So, I find myself responding to the minutiae. I have said that I share Jim’s concern that Americans Elect needs to be more open and transparent. It is in AE’s interest to be more open and transparent.

    But I also think AE is making a valuable contribution in putting an alternative to the two-party duopoly on the ballot for 2012. Getting on the ballot in all 50 states and the District of Columbia is a very expensive undertaking. If the choice comes down to AE having to reveal its funders — and the money for the ballot access campaign drying up, then i guess I am willing to forgo some transparency for now. If as Peregrin says, AE represents “an extreme corporatist agenda,” then we’ll have the opportunity to render a judgment on AE when we go to the polls on Nov. 6, 2012.

    So, my question has been “How are we any worse off by having three tickets to choose from even if all three turn out to be promoting a pro-corporate agenda?” What we know is that if Americans Elect goes away, we’ll have two pro-corporate tickets on the ballot. I say there is a better chance of pro-corporate interests dividing if three of them are competing than if only two of them are. But I can’t get Jim to talk about issues like that.

    1. Hendrix says:

      If you were getting beat up by 2 bullies, would you hope for another bully to show up on the off chance he would pick a fight with the other bullies instead of joining in beating you?

      1. Jim Cook says:

        It is also possible that Americans Elect feels that the Democrats and Republicans are not responsive enough to big business (don’t laugh: the 501c4 corporation No Labels, which has a number of connections to Americans Elect, articulated that position in a conference call this week). If that possibility is true, then so long as the Americans Elect corporate board maintains control over the process to nominate a presidential candidate, we can expect the average position among 2012 presidential candidates to drift more in the direction of pro-corporate policy.

        Americans Elect’s motivations matter crucially so long as an Americans Elect corporate board maintains control over its process.

        If Americans Elect removes its corporate board’s control over the process, none of Americans Elect’s motivations will matter and concerned people of all sorts — not just in the “center,” whatever that entity is, but on the left, the right, on the statist side, on the civil libertarian side, on the pro-corporate and anti-corporate sides — can jump on in and participate.

    2. Peregrin Wood says:

      Lee, on the bigger issues scale, Americans Elect is only presenting an alternative if you’re looking for a new political party. If you’re looking for a political movement that doesn’t represent corporations instead of citizens, Americans Elect isn’t an alternative at all.

      I think what you consider “minutiae” are, in fact, points of evidence that lead to this conclusion.

      Inconsistencies, dishonesties and hypocrisies in the “minutiae” also lead to another bigger issue: Lack of grounds for trust.

  9. Lee Mortimer says:

    Well, Jim, I guess we’ve beat this dead horse into oblivion. I’ll just call you the winner in hopes that people like Ron don’t get disillusioned seeing us rehash this stuff and then voting with their feet. Glad to hear I’m still welcome at the website.

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