Americans Elect made a very strong claim today in an official news release:
“Giving to Americans Elect buys you no special influence whatsoever, and all donors acknowledge that fact when they contribute.”
Strong claims require strong evidence. But Americans Elect has provided you NO evidence to back up their claim.
What strong evidence would look like:
1. A list of dates specifying when each member of the Americans Elect Board of Advisors and each member of the Americans Elect Board of Directors were appointed. The members of these boards are in the Americans Elect leadership circle: that’s what “special influence” means.
2. A list of dollar amounts donated by each member of those two boards and the date when each member gave that donation.
Americans Elect won’t provide that information. But there are three members of the Americans Elect leadership circle whose donations have leaked out:
1. Peter Ackerman. Private wealth fund executive Peter Ackerman has given at least $1.55 million to Americans Elect. He has been given the title of Chairman of Americans Elect, and as Bylaws Section 6.1 spells out, he cannot be removed from that position by the Delegates.
2. Melvin Andrews. Private wealth fund executive Melvin Andrews sent a donation to Americans Elect (amount undisclosed) in the spring or early summer. At the beginning of September 2011, Melvin Andrews’ name appeared as a member of the Board of Advisors.
3. Kirk Rostron. Private wealth fund executive Kirk Rostron also sent a donation to Americans Elect (amount undisclosed) in the spring or early summer. Subsequent to that, his name appeared on the list of the Board of Advisors.
Very few verified donors’ names have leaked out around the edges. But in these three instances, it appears that the donation of money has indeed led to the granting of special interest.
The special influence granted to Peter Ackerman, Melvin Andrews and Kirk Rostron appears to directly contradict today’s claim by Americans Elect.
It’s time for Americans Elect to explain itself. It’s time for Americans Elect to publicly identify, quantify and date its donors.
P.S. Toward the end of its latest attempt to dodge disclosure, Americans Elect throws out this caveat:
“If it turns out we’re a shady front group with an ulterior motive then when that becomes apparent, you can kick us to the curb and choose one of the major party candidates in November.”
The whole point of disclosing donors is to allow that sort of thing to become apparent. Americans Elect is choosing not to disclose its donors or how much they’ve given. If Americans Elect gets away with hiding its money sources, it will never become apparent whether Americans Elect is “a shady front group with an ulterior motive” or not.
Disclose your donors, Americans Elect.
Update, February 22 2012: Harold Meyerson of The American Prospect uncovers the identity of another donor to Americans Elect: “John Burbank, managing member and CIO of Passport Capital LLC, who’s given $2.5 million.” As late as December 27 2011, John Burbank and Americans Elect were refusing to comment on whether Burbank had made any donation.
What does $2.5 million buy you? A seat on the Americans Elect Board of Advisors. That’s where John Burbank sits. And this is yet another contradiction of Americans Elect’s earnest declaration.