At long last, the privatized presidential nomination called Americans Elect has explained why it is keeping the names of its big money donors a secret from the public. Their reason: if the public knew their names, Americans might say something that would hurt the donors’ feelings.
I’m not kidding. That’s the entire reason.
Dave Weigel at Slate shares the content of today’s media-insider conference call:
I fell behind in the queue to Ken Vogel, Politico’s dogged money and politics reporter, one of the most vicious follow-up-ers on the planet. He dragged the AE leadership into a fascinating defense of their 501c4 status and decision not to disclose donors.
“The folks running Americans Elect, they don’t know who the donors are,” said Sragow, defending the secrecy. Another AE leader contradicted this a little bit. “I’ve participated in some of the meetings where people won’t sign because of fear of retribution,” he said. “We can have complete disclosure and fail, or we can succeed.”
But hang on: What sort of retribution were we talking about? “My father, Peter Ackerman,” offered the group’s COO Elliot Ackerman. “He’s been mischaracterized in the press frequently.”
Sragow wasn’t about to let this suggestion fly — this idea that working with AE wasn’t dangerous. “Don’t suggest that there is no retribution,” he said. “Nobody who’s spent 10 minutes in politics could think that.” He’d been vilified for participating in the group. He’d been attacked and insulted. “Fortunately, in this country, we don’t use molotov cocktails literally,” he said. “We use them figuratively.”
Darry Sragow (the Political Director for Americans Elect) has not had a molotov cocktail thrown through his window.
Darry Sragow has not been attacked.
Darry Sragow has been verbally criticized.
If verbal criticism of donors is what Darry Sragow wants to prevent by keeping donors’ names a secret, then he’s earned that criticism. Taking public action involves public response. That’s what democracy is. Americans Elect doesn’t want democracy. It wants a new aristocracy.