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How to use the Americans Elect Rules to Eject the Americans Elect Corporate Board (?)

Americans Elect wants to be the first corporation to run its own candidate for President of the United States without disclosing its funding sources.  Strangely enough, that makes some people suspicious.  But today I’ve found a feature of Americans Elect’s new draft rules that should allay those suspicions — so long as AE actually follows its own rules and their perhaps unintended consequences.

One of the suspicions people have identified with the presidential nominating process rolled out by the Americans Elect corporation is that according to corporate bylaws the AE corporate Board of Directors is self-appointed, cannot be removed except by the board itself, and has the right to change the rules of the presidential nomination in the middle of the process without any realistic prospect for anyone to overturn such rulings.

But last week, Americans Elect released a new draft of its rules for running its nominations process. It includes this provision:

1.5.1. Petition of Delegates or Board. Upon petition on the Website of 1,000 or more Delegates by flagging any Delegate for violation of the Delegate Pledge, or upon its own motion, the Board may disqualify any person as a Delegate with or without notice.

And the bylaws require that every member of the Board of Directors must qualify as a Delegate:

Directors need not be residents of the District of Columbia, but all Directors shall be required to qualify and serve as Delegates.

So if 1,000 Delegates sign a petition to disqualify a member of the Board of Directors, then s/he will be disqualified as a delegate, which means that s/he will be disqualified as a member of the Board.

And voila! A method for the populace to remove malfeasant members of the Americans Elect Board of Directors!

1.5.2. Appeal of Disqualification. Any delegate who has been disqualified in accordance with this rule may file a written appeal with the Board together with a statement of reasons why the Delegate should not be disqualified. After a review of the statement as well as review of Website posts of the Delegate, and after hearing in person or by telephone if the Board or its designee desires, the Board or designee shall decide whether the disqualification shall be overturned. The decision of the Board or its designee shall be final and binding…

… oh, nertz. Never mind. We now return to our regularly-scheduled Board-controlled election.

20 comments to How to use the Americans Elect Rules to Eject the Americans Elect Corporate Board (?)

  • Paulie

    “May” does not mean have to.

    • I nominate Peter Ackerman Delegate-In-Chief for life!

    • Right, Paulie. This post (complete with “?”) was meant to be a tongue-in-cheek way of presenting yet another point of stratification: the Board has discretion to do just about anything it wants to to kick out Delegates, but there’s no way for Delegates to kick out the Board. Even more elitist and exclusive than the two major parties, which for all their faults have some ways for making leadership accountable to the rank-and-file.

  • Bill

    Jim, you raise an interesting point. While it is certainly the case that the AECorp Board will never allow a member of the Board to be disqualified as a delegate…and hence as a Board member (Dear Leader Ackerman didn’t invest his hard-scammed millions into Americans Elect Corp. just to let himself get turned out)…it is interesting to reflect upon the incredibly bad PR, and equally negative media attention, AECorp would suffer from a vigorous “Disqualify Peter Ackerman” movement which it was forced to autocratically suppress by fiat.

    I have flattered myself by thinking that that the new disqualification rules…and especially that bit about “…as well as review of Website posts of the Delegate…” was aimed in part at me, since those who know me know that I have been pretty merciless (albeit honest) in my criticism of AECorp’s behavior, using its own forum site to attempt to justly embarrass it. And I’m sure sure AECorp’s Mystery Board would dearly love to disqualify me so that they can shut me up. But you have opened my eyes with this article; what’s sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander.

    Any fellow AECorp members up for a little “Disqualify Peter Ackerman” campaign? =)

  • Lee Mortimer

    What do you think the Democratic Party or the Republican Party would do if you attended their nominating convention for the sole purpose of disrupting the proceedings? Or for that matter the Green Party, or the Libertarian Party, or the Working Families Party, or the Peace and Freedom Party, or the Socialist Workers Party, or the Constitution Party, or the Communist Party, or the ? . . . well, you get the picture.

    • Not the “sole purpose of disrupting the proceedings.” He said his purpose was to remove Ackerman from his position as Chairman of this uniquely corporate political party, or to demonstrate through rejection of that effort that Americans Elect was unaccountable. That’s very different.

      And it highlights the difference between Americans Elect and just about all those other parties — those other parties have a means by which the rank and file can challenge and remove leadership. It actually happens from time to time, all within traditional political party rules. But such a move appears to be impossible with Americans Elect, which makes Americans Elect a serious step backward from other political parties when it comes to public accountability of leadership.

      • Lee Mortimer

        Well, you’re partly right — but also partly wrong. Bill proposes a “Disqualify Ackerman movement” during the online voting as a tactic to generate “incredibly bad PR and equally negative media attention.” He relishes in being “merciless (albeit honest) in my criticism of AECorp’s behavior, using its own forum site to attempt to justly embarrass it.” Those words describe someone who is more gadfly than serious strategist. Were AE to treat the effort as “disruption,” I seriously doubt many delegates would think they were out of line.

        You continue to cite the false premise that AE is “a political party.” The U.S. Court of Appeals says AE is not a political party. And at least for now, so does the IRS. There are two things that can be said about AE: (1) it is running a ballot access campaign; and (2) it is attempting to establish a new process for nominating a presidential ticket. There is no legally operative argument that AE is a political party. Once a ticket is nominated, the candidates will be on their own and AE will effectively cease to exist.

        I would like to see more transparency and accountability, and intend to advocate for changes in the draft rules. But even if my suggestions are not accepted, there is value in what AE is doing. It will be there for all to see and evaluate once a ticket is nominated. If we like what we see, we can vote for it in Nov. 2012. If we don’t like it, we can reject it. I challenge anyone to show how our democracy would be any worse off for having a third choice on the ballot.

        • Bill

          Lee, I have been (and am) trying to embarrass AECorp into living up to its own espoused standards of transparency and openness. I realize you have a strong attitude of “Oh, I’m sure its all just fine” with respect to AECorp, but many of us just aren’t that sanguine when we look upon its institutionalized secretiveness, rigid top-down power structure (without the ‘down’), and routine obfuscations and down-right lies. When people (or corporations) behave that badly, sometimes shaming them into better behavior is all you can do. Either that, or ignore them. But for me, ignoring AECorp isn’t an option. As it is constituted today I believe it to be a clear and present danger to the democracy I love.

  • Ralph

    You’re such a troll, Lee.

    You know very well–it’s been thoroughly documented–that Americans Elect has called itself a political party when it serves to help get it on the ballot, then turned around and denied it’s a political party when talking to the public. But you just say it’s a “false premise” that Americans Elect is a political party.

    Why is that a “false premise?” Because blah blah yack yack some bullshit you pulled out of your ass. You’re out-and-out lying, Lee.

    You’re a liar, a troll, and if I might add, an asshole.

    • Lee Mortimer

      See decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals, page 14 — “We find that Unity08 (now Americans Elect) is not subject to regulation as a political committee unless and until it selects a ‘clearly identified’ candidate.” http://law.justia.com/cases/federal/appellate-courts/cadc/08-5526/08-5526-1232761-2011-03-24.html

      • Ralph

        The decision relates to Unity08’s status as a “committee,” not a “party.” Stop bullshitting and lying, you troll douchebag.

        • Lee Mortimer

          Hey, foul-mouth, political committee and political party mean the same thing for adjudicating AE’s qualification for 501C status. You can ask Leader Jim to confirm that for you. You and he may not like the decision, but it’s what the court said. Maybe if you spewed enough profanities at them, they’d change their mind.

        • Ralph, I don’t know what you mean by “douchebag,” but you are so right about the decision. So absolutely, demonstrably, documentably correct.

          The opinion of the court specifically states that Unity08 — the direct predecessor to Americans Elect which swore up and down it had no favored candidate while it was registering a domain name for draftmichaelbloomberg.com and was planning a Draft Bloomberg movement to which it subsequently gave money and office space — explicitly planned to form as a political party.

          And as anyone who takes any time to search through the legal filings of Americans Elect in any number of states, such as Alaska, or Arizona, or California, or Florida can tell you, Americans Elect is explicitly organized as a political party. You are 100% correct, Ralph. Oh, Michigan, too:

          Agenda item: Consideration of “new political party” petition submitted by Americans
          Elect, 1775 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Suite 1212, Washington, D.C.
          20006.
          Board action on agenda item: A motion was entered to establish the
          deadline for challenging signatures on the new political party petition filed
          by Americans Elect, at 5:00 p.m. on the 10th
          business day following the
          adoption of this motion (September 29, 2011). Moved by Timmer;
          supported by Waters. Ayes: Shinkle, Timmer, Waters. Nays: None.
          Motion carried.
          Board action on agenda item: A motion was entered to approve the new
          political party petition filed by Americans Elect, provided that no
          signature challenges are filed by the deadline established by the Board. If
          any signature challenges are timely filed, the petition is not approved, and
          the Board will meet again to consider the challenges before making an
          official declaration of the sufficiency or insufficiency of the petition.
          Moved by Timmer; supported by Waters. Ayes: Shinkle, Timmer,
          Waters. Nays: None. Motion carried.

          Anyone who says otherwise is lying and not to be trusted. I mean, Hell’s bells, you can read it for yourself at http://law.justia.com/cases/federal/appellate-courts/cadc/08-5526/08-5526-1232761-2011-03-24.html … page 2 and page 10.

          The trolls may not like it, but it’s what the court said.

  • Lee Mortimer

    Jim, I think we’ve been over this before, but I can walk us through it again. The relevant portion of any court opinion is the decision. In this case, the decision states that Unity08/Americans Elect “is not subject to regulation as a political committee unless and until it selects a ‘clearly identified’ candidate.” Since there was not (and currently is not) an “identified candidate,” any background information in the opinion about activities Unity08/AE “planned to do” is irrelevant.

    No question that Americans Elect has done legal maneuvering to overcome the grossly unfair obstacles that Democrats and Republicans have erected to ballot access all over this country. To the extent AE has succeeded in knocking down some barriers in a number of states is a tribute to their resourcefulness. I would defer to Richard Winger of Ballot Access News, who has stated on this website and elsewhere, “If we had fair ballot access laws in this country, Americans Elect would not have to do what they are doing.”

    But whatever AE is doing is legal. And unless a higher court overturns the Court of Appeals, or the appeals court reverses itself, Americans Elect will not be regulated as a political committee. And because of that, Americans Elect is not a political party.

    I’d also like to say, Jim, I’m delighted to be back in direct dialog with you. After publicly declaring you would have nothing further to say to me because I am “not a genuine person” and “not worth (your) time to reply to again,” here we are 48 hours later having a full and substantive conversation. And perhaps your sidekick will be able to see that spewing profanities and personal attacks is a sign of someone who’s already lost the argument.

  • Lee Mortimer

    Bill, I fully understand and respect your concern about AE’s lack of transparency and accountability. I have said there needs to be more of both and that I plan to advocate for changes. And please understand that I don’t think “it’s all just fine” with Americans Elect.

    But I would like to know, and hope you will tell me more, about your specific reasons why AE poses a threat to the democracy that you and I both love. If AE succeeds in everything it wants to do — holding a secure online convention and nominating a presidential ticket on all 51 ballots in this country — how does that leave us any worse off than if only a Democrat and a Republican ticket are on the ballot?

    Make no mistake, a third ticket even with very credible nominees will face a tremendous uphill challenge. Winning the election is out of the question. In order to carry any states and gain any electoral votes, the ticket would have to win at the very minimum 25% of the nationwide popular vote. That hasn’t been done by a third party since Teddy Roosevelt got 27% in 1912. Ross Perot got 19% in 1992, but carried no states and came in second only in Maine.

    You’ve probably heard about the “coalition” plan whereby after the election AE delegates would use any electoral votes they win to support one or the other ticket. For that coalition plan to be at all feasible, the AE-designated ticket would have to win its electoral votes only in swing states. Winning any blue states would tip the election to the Republicans. Winning any red states would tip the election to the Democrats.

    But by far the greatest likelihood is for the AE ticket to carry no states and for either the Republican or the Democratic ticket to reach 270 electoral votes on its own without any help. So in all likelihood, the outcome is going to be the same whether AE has a ticket on the ballot or whether it doesn’t. So, we’re back to the original question: how would our American democracy be any worse off with a third ticket on the ballot?

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