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Kahlil Byrd Tells NPR Americans Elect is Not a Political Party when it is a Party. Why?

Advertisements appearing at the New York Times website last week, explaining that Americans Elect is “Not a Party”:

New York Times advertisements for Americans Elect that say Americans Elect is Not A Party

On NPR yesterday:

“We’re not a political party and don’t have an aspiration to be,” said Kahlil Byrd, a political consultant and president of Americans Elect.

The Secretary of State of Ohio the day before yesterday:

Consistent with the Federal District Court’s order on October 18, 2011, I am recognizing the Libertarian Party as a minor party, as well as the Americans Elect Party, the Constitution Party, the Green Party and the Socialist Party as minor parties.

Americans Elect is also qualified as a political party in Florida. Read documents filed by Americans Elect with the state of Florida and you will find letters in which Americans Elect’s top lawyer cajoles, pleads and eventually insists that Americans Elect be recognized by the state as a political party. Americans Elect is currently attempting to qualify as a political party in the state of California (and despite hiring signature gatherers it looks as though it’s going to need a recount in order to do so). It is qualified as a political party in Nevada and Arizona and other states as well.

Why, then, does Americans Elect repeatedly (see here and here and here) insist in public that it is not a political party?

Documents filed by Democracy21, an organization working “to eliminate the undue influence of big money in American politics,” reveal a potentially significant problem for Americans Elect:

Americans Elect is not only devoted to intervening in the 2012 elections, it is actually qualifying itself as a political party for purposes of state ballot access laws. A political party is not eligible to qualify as a section 501(c)(4) tax exempt organization.

In yesterday’s National Public Radio piece, Americans Elect admitted that it has registered as a 501c4 corporation to hide the names of its big money funders from public view. If Democracy21 is correct in its assertion (as an IRS investigation of Americans Elect will show), Americans Elect is in trouble. But all it will have to do to pull itself out of trouble is to withdraw its registration as a 501c4 corporation, file as a Section 527 political organization…

… and disclose the amounts and sources of the financial contributions it has received.

4 thoughts on “Kahlil Byrd Tells NPR Americans Elect is Not a Political Party when it is a Party. Why?”

  1. Richard Winger says:

    The political culture of the United States over the last 11 years is to blame for this situation. People with political influence in the United States are locked into the idea that no “serious” “responsible” person would ever work outside the two major parties, in presidential elections. Ralph Nader continues to be demonized because he taught that it is worthwhile to go outside the two major parties in presidential elections. For the most part, the left has gone along with this demonization. Although the laws permit a new party to be established (with great difficulty in certain states), the establishment culture is overwhelmingly opposed to it. Even the founders of Americans Elect, with their large financial resources, feel the social pressure, and bend to that pressure, and are intimidated from saying that AE is a new party.

    Of course Irregular Times is correct that Americans Elect is a new party, but Irregular Times doesn’t present the full truth when it simply lambasts Americans Elect. Americans Elect is a force to change U.S. political culture back toward a toleration of new political parties. It is bucking tremendously strong headwinds against that idea, so it shrinks away from acknowledging what it is doing. Americans Elect’s actual behavior is helping to free up the U.S. political system. Every time it overcomes a petition hurdle that hasn’t been used in a particular state in decades, it is reminding state officials in those tough states that, yes, those officials are going to need to do a lot of work to validate those seldom-used petitions. No one has done the Alabama party petition since 2000. No one has done the Georgia party petition since 1996. No one has done the Oklahoma party petition since 2000. No one has done the California party petition since 1948. The system is hopelessly congealed and Americans Elect is breaking open the creaky, rusted procedures for ballot access, clearing away the cobwebs. Irregular Times ought to be more balanced in its attitude toward AE.

    1. Jim Cook says:


      I appreciate and support your right to speech. But have I said anything that isn’t accurate? If I have, please point that out. If not, what’s wrong with pointing out what’s accurate?

      Balance is an interesting term for you to use. How many major media outlets has Americans Elect gotten on in the last few months alone? How many serious questions have they been asked? This NPR piece is the exception, not the rule. How is that “balanced?” I like to think that I am providing “balance” by pointing out facts which neither Americans Elect nor any other outlet is pointing out.

      What you call “intimidation” I call accountability. It’s the other feature of American politics. Everybody should be able to get involved in politics in America. But nobody should be able to front up a corporate group and try to elect a president while hiding its funding and obscuring aspects of its process. Transparency requires that Americans Elect be upfront about itself. It is not being upfront about itself — you and I both know that.

      You’ve declared publicly that you like Americans Elect, Richard, and that’s fine. But when Americans Elect says things about itself that are just not so, someone needs to point these things out. If you think that’s “unbalanced” and improper, then you and I fundamentally disagree about what balance in American politics means.

  2. Richard Winger says:

    I wish Irregular Times would do more reporting about how restrictive the system is. For example, I would be delighted if you reprinted any parts of my Nov. 1, 2011 Ballot Access News that show how for the last 20 years, the US Supreme Court has trampled on the ability of voters to vote for minor party and independent candidates.

    1. Jim Cook says:

      That’s absolutely fair, Richard. You’re right that ballot access is a part of our political reality we don’t look into as much as we could (although we have considered third parties for some time). I’ll think more about that.

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