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Americans Elect COO Elliot Ackerman Fibs Twice on National Television

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.

Americans Elect Streaming Donor List December 1 2011: No Names, No Places, No Amounts.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.

15 comments to Americans Elect COO Elliot Ackerman Fibs Twice on National Television

  • Anonymous

    Um, you should correct the “Chris Ackerman” mistake in your first paragraph there.

  • Fury

    Americans Elect is corporate financial elitists nominating whoever they want and giving no control over the process to anyone outside their corporate-wall-street axis of One Percent snobs.

  • Tom

    What did you expect?

  • Thanks for the article, Jim. The Americans Elect corporation filed as a “social welfare” organization with the IRS to evade financial disclosure laws. A political party cannot be a social welfare organization for tax purposes. Americans Elect is running the biggest petition drive in history, trying to qualify as a political party in all fifty states, yet they insist that it is not a political party. Their political party status enables them to nominate thousands of candidates across the country at federal, state, and county levels. State election laws will require them to have an open and democratic process for candidates to seek their nomination at all levels. Yet, their national bylaws say that they will only nominate candidates for president and vice president, not for any other offices.

  • Nate Borgo

    I still trust AE over both of our current political parties. My guess is that some states require them to call themselves a party because they didn’t have any other way of handling their unique organizational structure. I think this is all a big deal about nothing. If I like their candidate over any of the others ones on the ballot, I will vote for them. I am currently part of trying to draft Buddy Roemer for the AE ticket. Having more choices than the clowns on the current GOP debate stage and the biggest corporate backed clown that is currently occupying the White House is not a bad thing. Our two party system that is bought and paid for by special interests is going to be the downfall of our country.

  • mac

    The article closes with the suggestion that perhaps they are “a remarkably un-self-reflective effort” and that’s about right. They are attempting to run what it essentially a third-party campaign without becoming a third-party. They have avoided making their money visible because the seed money was done in the form of loans that we are trying to repay so that it truly belongs to US and NOT have Big Money in control. The fact that they can be castigated this way doesn’t diminish them in my eyes one bit.

    Yes, we kind of have to trust them. Why not? You sure can’t trust these other yahoos and we already KNOW that. I’m really no worse off if the whole thing *is* a charade to hide Big Money manipulation of a 3rd party President.

    But as unlikely as that actually is in the first place?

    There’s much better ways to spend their money.

    So, mock them and call them stupid if that makes you feel better about the Status-Quo Circus you’re implicitly defending. But to suggest that they are trying to be sneaky and corrupt doesn’t really make any sense.

    Even Judge Judy can tell you that if it doesn’t make sense, it usually isn’t true.

    • “We are trying to repay?” We? Are you part of Americans Elect, mac? (Or was that just a slip of the keys?)

      You’re trying to collapse the world into a dichotomy: either you support Americans Elect OR you are a defender of the Status-Quo Circus. I don’t buy that dichotomy. I think it’s possible to support a change to the status quo of top-down politics while having a big problem with the top-down approach of Americans Elect.

  • Chicora

    I personally praise what Americans Elect is trying to do. With 50 States, 50 different enities with diffent election laws, their efforts will at times seem convalouted as they negotiate each set of laws to arrive at a 3rd party platform into which the people at large will elect a canidate to put before all citizens. I’m sure there will be skeptics…to this endeavor. I don’t think this is any endevor by “fat cat” corporate types to influence our direction as a Nation. In fact it does just the opposite in returning decision making back to the people by removing the undo influence of corporations and the monied elite. I think this is what our fore fathers envision as they had a real adversion to the corporation influence in our governence. Will it work? I hope so. Prehaps there will more….to remove the corrupting influence that has infected our political process slowly over the last 50 years.

    • Lns

      I don’t know if you are naive… I prefer to think so… however, the only way to get the corruption out that you say you want, is to support an amendment to get money out of politics. The people who are behind this, I have been watching them from the very beginning and I do NOT believe that this is some idealogical movement. It is about as grass roots as the Tea Party and the money that drove that movement.

  • Stephen

    What is the big deal that they don’t ‘reveal’ who all their donors are? PACs are doing the same thing on both sides of the political equation, why aren’t these two attacking them? People are just scared of a third option which will destroy the status quo and the same tired tug of war.

  • Josh

    this article seems confused. . . .

    American’s elect is not a political party because there is no agenda other than democracy. The selected candidate has just as much chance of being democrat as he does republican or independent or any weird new party. There is no “base” for this political party. It is 2012, update your definitions.

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