Ten Questions for Americans Elect, February 2012
After almost two years of asking Americans Elect questions and not getting answers from them, I’m grateful to Kris McAlister of the new Americans Elect “Northwest Web Team”, who has written to me and very kindly solicited my questions so that those questions can be posed to the Americans Elect leadership through inside channels.
As you probably know if you’ve been reading Irregular Times lately, I’ve been asking Americans Elect lots and lots of questions. But if I had to pick the ten questions I’d most like Americans Elect to answer, I’d pick these. The following are the most central questions I’ve asked before, the 10 questions I’ve forwarded on to Kris McAlister for help:
1. What are the names of the people who have provided more than $1,000 worth of funding or other valued support to Americans Elect?
2. Americans Elect has indicated that it would pay back large-dollar funders from an anticipated large pool of small-dollar donations, “so that our candidates will answer only to the American people.” (source). The converse implication of this quote is that if the money is not paid back, candidates will not only be answering to the American people. The selection process for candidates to qualify for the Americans Elect ballot began on January 31, 2012. As of January 31, 2012, in an aggregate dollar amount, how much of these loans have been paid back? How much of these loans have not been paid back?
3. Americans Elect Political Director Darry Sragow has been quoted as saying (http://www.slate.com/blogs/weigel/2011/12/21/americans_elect_no_molotov_cocktails_please.html) that “The folks running Americans Elect, they don’t know who the donors are.” But Americans Elect’s leadership also characterizes the motivations of the donors, that they “share a deep concern about our country’s broken political system, and a strong desire to do something about it. But they also know that it’s hard being among the first to publicly support something that challenges an entrenched and powerful establishment.” (Source) It is also publicly known that one of the largest multimillion funders of Americans Elect, Peter Ackerman, is its Chairman. Can Americans Elect explain these discrepancies?
4. I’ve always believed that the Golden Rule is a useful test for the ethics of a person or group.
Americans Elect: do you believe we should let the Republicans and Democrats take contributions of unlimited size without disclosure of the contributions’ source or amounts?
5. Without naming names, Americans Elect can disclose today:
a. The number of donations it has received, and the dollar amount of each donation.
b. The state or country of residence of each donor.
c. The principal occupation, if any of each donor.
d. The date of each donation.
e. The type of donation: loan, dollar donation, in-kind donation.
f. The amount of each loan that has been paid back by Americans Elect, as it said it would.
g. The number of the funders of Americans Elect who are also among the Americans Elect leadership.
Will Americans Elect please provide this information?
6. Americans Elect declares that “none of our funding comes from special interests or lobbyists.” But in his Sunday New York Times profile of Americans Elect, columnist Thomas Friedman describes “swank offices, financed with some serious hedge-fund money, a stone’s throw from the White House.”
Given recent special interest advocacy of hedge fund operators regarding the Dodd-Frank Act, these two statements appear to be inconsistent. Is Thomas Friedman’s statement regarding hedge fund contributions to Americans Elect inaccurate? Or has Americans Elect been accepting money from the operators of hedge funds?
7. Americans Elect declares publicly that “None of our funding comes from special interests or lobbyists.” But according to the limited list from the Americans Elect Piryx giving stream, one of Americans Elect’s funders is Jim Holbrook. Jim Holbrook is the current Chair of the Promotion Marketing Association, which in its online material describes its role as furthering the interests of the promotion marketing industry.
How does this funding source jibe with Americans Elect’s pledge that it doesn’t take special interest money? If this source of funding doesn’t count as a special interest source, what would?
8. On Americans Elect’s “About” page, Americans Elect “None of our funding comes from special interests or lobbyists.” But according to an incomplete list via the Americans Elect “giving stream” and Americans Elect disclosure documents from the time before it shifted to a no-disclosure, Peter Ackerman and Melvin Andrews and Kirk Rostron — all private capital investment executives — have provided funding the Americans Elect 501c4 corporation.
The private capital investment sector of the economy has been agitating politically in the last year for the government to make changes to the wording or interpretation of the Dodd-Frank Act to benefit their business’ bottom line. This means that private capital investment executives have special interests, by the dictionary definition of the term.
There appears to be a contradiction between Americans Elect’s claims and its practices. How would Americans Elect explain this contradiction?
9. According to Americans Elect Rule 18.104.22.168, there are two ways to qualify for a vote for Americans Elect ballot access. The first is to gain 10,000 “support” votes, and the second is to gain 50,000 “support” votes. Who gets into the easier 10,000 “support” vote tier? If you are a corporate executive leading 1,000 employees, you’re automatically in. If you’re a university president, you have to lead 4,000 students. And if you head up a labor union, you have to lead 100,000 union members. In the universe of political privilege that Americans Elect has constructed, a single employee is literally worth four students, and one employee is worth a hundred union members.
Why is that, Americans Elect?
10. Why did Americans Elect change its official Rules late in 2011? In the prior rules, delegates could at least hypothetically overrule any decision by the corporate-appointed Candidate Certification Committee to kick a candidate off the Americans Elect ballot. In the new rules, delegates can no longer overrule that decision if the Candidate Certification Committee acts unanimously.
Thanks again to Kris McAlister. I sincerely appreciate your outreach and hope you’re able to obtain and share answers from the Americans Elect leadership.