Americans Elect is a corporation seeking to run the nation’s first private online presidential nomination in the Spring of 2012. The last update of Americans Elect’s Who We Are page, effective October 31 2011, lists Americans Elect’s new Board of Directors. One of the new Directors is the Republican former New Jersey Governor Christine Todd Whitman.
Section 4.12 of the Americans Elect corporate bylaws makes it very clear that Directors must remain neutral, not taking any action or making any communication in favor of or in opposition to any contender for the presidency:
Section 4.12. Neutrality of Directors. Board members shall not communicate or act in favor of or in opposition to any candidate for President or Vice President at any time before the adjournment of the online nominating convention of Americans Elect.
We already know that Christine Todd Whitman spoke out in support of the presidential bid of Republican Jon Huntsman in a WMUR interview on October 15 2011 in New Hampshire. Now a second video has appeared in which Christine Todd Whitman again communicates in favor of the presidential candidacy of Jon Huntsman, this time on October 17 2011 in an interview with Ryan Nobles of NBC12 in Richmond, Virginia:
NBC12’s Ryan Nobles: Have you picked a candidate yet in the race for President? Have you endorsed?
Former New Jersey Governor Christine Todd Whitman: I haven’t publicly endorsed anybody. I’m supportive. Of the candidates that I know, I’ve seen and I’m talked to, Jon Huntsman is someone with whom I have a, for whom I have a great deal of respect, who has a wide breadth of experience both in the private sector, the public sector, and international.
Nobles: But you haven’t endorsed anyone officially.
If we’re going to be legalistic in our consideration of the propriety of Christine Todd Whitman’s actions, then dates matter. When was Christine Todd Whitman appointed as a Director of Americans Elect? We don’t know. We would know the answer if Americans Elect had, as required by Florida law, been giving public notice of its meetings. Unfortunately, Americans Elect has not been as transparent in its communication of what it’s been doing and when it’s been doing it as Florida law requires. We only know that the “Who We Are” website detailing Americans Elect leadership is labeled as being last updated on October 31, which seems to indicate that Christine Todd Whitman became a director some time in the month of October.
One doesn’t get appointed a director like one wins the Publisher’s Clearinghouse Sweepstakes, with someone showing up at one’s door with balloons and a big certificate. These things are worked out and negotiated ahead of time. Christine Todd Whitman would have known she was becoming a director. If Christine Todd Whitman became a Director of Americans Elect before October 17, she is directly and formally in violation of the Americans Elect bylaws. If Christine Todd Whitman knew she was to become a director of Americans Elect when she was speaking in these interviews, she violated the spirit of the Americans Elect bylaws by tossing away her neutrality on TV.
We will find out the date of the change when Americans Elect gets around to filing necessary papers describing its change in corporate leadership. Who knows when that will be — despite its many millions of dollars at hand, the Americans Elect corporation has been neither prompt nor thorough in the disclosure of its administration.