Last week, Americans Elect Chief Operating Officer Elliot Ackerman appeared on Chris Matthews’ national show Hardball to talk up his billionaire father’s corporate presidential election system. But Chris Matthews and guest David Corn had a few questions for him:
Through the endless screams and inane babble, they discerned two words… sorry, wrong movie.
In the midst of a back and forth during which Matthews and Corn just wouldn’t let Ackerman return to his talking points, you can notice the Americans Elect COO making two assertions that just aren’t true:
Chris Matthews: So this is basically a couple of people with a lot of money giving.
Elliot Ackerman: No, we actually have about 4 thousand donors right now.
Matthews: Do you list that donor list? Can we access that?
Ackerman: We do. Go to americanselect.org.
Matthews: And so it’s public?
Ackerman: It’s streaming live on our website.
David Corn: But you’re set up as a group that can keep its donors secret, right? So you can take some money in and it doesn’t have to be revealed, right?
Ackerman: Let’s talk about where that money’s going to…
Corn: No, no, no.
Matthews: Is it true that some of your money is blind?
Ackerman: Some of our money, which are loans, have come in, and those folks have the opportunity to disclose those loans.
Matthews: But why don’t you? The 2 political parties you’re up against have to disclose their contributions.
Ackerman: We’re not a political party, Chris.
Matthews: But you’re running a candidate for office with secret financing.
Ackerman: Well, that’s what you seem to be saying.
Matthews: What do you say?
Ackerman: We’re getting 50-state ballot access. We’re not giving a cent to the candidate.
Matthews: But in terms of setting up this opportunity for a third party or a third candidate, are you being transparent?
Ackerman: I think we’re absolutely being transparent. You can see our Form 990 is on our website, as well as our audited financial statements.
Corn: But the bottom line is that not every donor is being identified. You could get 5 million dollars from somebody and not reveal that. You don’t have to. Is that correct?
Ackerman: We’re not going to define this as a third party. We’re going to have 50-state ballot access.
Corn: But I understand that…
Ackerman: We’re getting 50-state ballot access.
Corn: But, but…
Matthews: I think we made our point here.
Fact Check #1: “You list that donor list? Can we access that?” “It’s streaming live on our website.”
Go ahead and visit americanselect.org, the website Elliot Ackerman refers to. The closest thing you’ll be able to find to a streaming live list of donors is a list of comments made by donors, an example of which you can see to the right. There are no full names, no addresses, no cities or states of residence, no employers, and no dollar amounts. These are the pieces of information that every political party must supply in our country when it receives money. Americans Elect supplies none of this. It’s an actual “donor list” like Circus Peanuts (TM) are “peanuts.”
Fact Check #2: “We’re Not a Political Party, Chris.” “We’re not going to define this as a third party.”
Although leaders of Americans Elect repeatedly insist in public that it is not a political party, Americans Elect is officially registered as a political party in the states of Ohio, Florida, Nevada and Arizona, among others. In the state of Colorado, Americans Elect’s status as a political party was announced by the Secretary of State just this week.
A chief executive of the Americans Elect corporation puts himself on national television and says things that just aren’t so, accompanied by qualifiers like “actually” and “absolutely.” Then in the next breath Americans Elect declares it is the way to change to “politics as usual.” This is either a remarkably un-self-reflective effort, a cynical resurrection of Barnum’s circus, or a very clever debut in the Theater of the Absurd.