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Violating Charter and Bylaws, No Labels and Americans Elect Promote Presidential Bid of Pete Peterson-Funded David Walker

Update, 2:22 pm 2/21/2012: Until this afternoon, this article had featured the word “apparent” regarding the Americans Elect press release promoting Draft Presidential Candidate David Walker. I had suspicions that the press release might be fake, considering how brazenly it violates Americans Elect’s own policy against speaking or acting to promote a presidential candidacy. But the subsequent publication of the press release on Americans Elect’s website shows that it’s real.


What Americans Elect and No Labels Say: No, We’re Not Promoting Any Presidential Candidate…
The organizing documents published by the 501c4 corporation No Labels declare prominently that No Labels is not in the business of supporting a third-party or independent candidate for president in 2012.

Is No Labels trying to start a third party or support an independent for president?  No.  That's what No Labels says.  What No Labels does is rather different.

The organizing documents published by the 501c4 corporation Americans Elect declare prominently that while Americans Elect is setting up a structure for a third-party presidential candidate, it is not in the business of promoting or opposing any particular presidential candidate:

Pursuant to the unanimous March 2010 opinion of the  U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit in Unity08 v. FEC, the organization, its directors,  officers, and its paid staff do not and will not support, or oppose, any particular candidate or  particular draft effort for a candidate for the presidential or vice presidential nominations of  Americans Elect.  That impartiality will continue until the Delegates have made their choice in  June 2012.

See also Americans Elect bylaws 4.1.2 and 6.1.

What No Labels and Americans Elect say and what they do seem to be at variance.

What No Labels has been doing: Promoting Presidential Candidate David Walker
Friday February 17 2012, one Dave Walker gives his Twitter followers a news tip:

On Feb. 17 2012, Dave Walker lets people know about the upcoming Thomas Friedman article promoting his presidential candidacy

Saturday February 18 2012, No Labels promotes the policy writings of one David Walker by e-mail:

Saturday, 2/18/2011: No Labels asks people to read what David Walker has written

Sunday February 19 2012, New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman (who has published inside-access promotions of Americans Elect before) promotes the idea of a presidential run by one David Walker:

I know what I’d pay good money to see: an intelligent independent candidate just taking part in the presidential debates, because it would make both Obama and his Republican opponent better. One independent I’d like to see play that role is David Walker.

Walker was the country’s chief auditor, serving from 1998 to 2008 as the U.S. comptroller general. He is currently the chief executive of the Comeback America Initiative (www.tcaii.org), a nonpartisan group dedicated to getting America’s fiscal house in order. Walker — who came in second to Hillary Clinton in a reader poll that Politico conducted last October for favorite Third Party candidate…

… reader poll? Reader poll? Where have I heard about that Politico reader poll before?

October 6 2011:

No Labels freeps a Draft Dave Walker for President poll on October 6 2011

October 8 2011:

No Labels runs a Draft Dave Walker for President campaign to stuff a Politico presidential preference online poll on October 8 2011

October 10 2011:

Dave Walker, promoting a Draft Walker vote in conjunction with the No Labels freeping effort, October 10 2011

October 11 2011:

Draft Dave Walker Presidential Campaign, started by No Labels in October 2011.  This promotions piece dates to October 11 2011.

Dave Walker self-promotes his No Labels presidential campaign in October 2011, to be used as a selling point by Thomas Friedman for Americans Elect February 2012

October 14 2011:

David Walker is Honored and Humbled by the No Labels American People October 14 2011

Enough flashback. Spring back to Sunday February 19 2012, the same day Thomas Friedman published his New York Times trial balloon promoting David Walker for president, when No Labels sends out this similarly gushing e-mail endorsement of Dave Walker for president:

No Labels e-mail of February 19, endorsing the same-day Dave Walker campaign for President

Monday February 20 2012, the same Dave Walker who shared an advance tip of Friedman’s article announces his humbled reaction:

Dave Walker is Honored and Humbled by the Article promoting him he Knew About in Advance

Americans Elect, Promoting David Walker’s Presidential Candidacy
Rick Hasen of the Election Law Blog has this scoop on the promotion of David Walker by Americans Elect, February 20 2011:

Americans Elect has an official policy of neutrality (rule 6.1) when it comes to which candidate should get the Americans Elect nomination. Yet one day after Tom Friedman wrote a fawning New York Times column promoting David Walker as a potential presidential candidate (without mentioning Walker’s membership on the AE board), I received this press release:

===

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
BOARD MEMBER DAVID WALKER EMBOLDENS VOTERS TO FACE THE CRITICAL CHALLENGES OF OUR NATION
WASHINGTON, D.C., FEBRUARY 20, 2012 – Dave Walker knows the facts, the truth and the tough choice we face in connection with our nation’s poor finances and other key challenges. As the nation’s former chief auditor and head of the U.S. Government Accountability Office for almost 10 years, Walker has front-line experience in connection with the many challenges and partisan gridlock in Washington that literally threaten our nation’s and our families’ futures. Walker’s three presidential appointments from Reagan, Bush and Clinton, combined with his many years of private and non-profit leadership experience, and his engagement with Americans in all 50 states, led him to Americans Elect, where he now serves as a member of the Advisory Board.

Walker currently serves as Founder and CEO of the Comeback America Initiative, which engages the public and policymakers on fiscal issues and nonpartisan solutions that can achieve bipartisan support. Walker understands that Americans Elect’s online nominating process for president combined with its independence from the two major political parties has the ability to shock the current political system in a positive manner.

Walker is an author of three books, a national co-founder of No Labels, a member the Accounting Profession’s Hall of Fame, the Sons of the American Revolution, and the Trilateral Commission. His experience in these areas make him an important resource for Americans Elect moving forward.

“This nation has faced great challenges in the past, and it’s always risen to successfully address those challenges. It’s time to do so again.” said Walker. “Americans Elect is providing the American people with more choice and competition in connection with the nation’s two highest offices. It offers an opportunity to break the partisan gridlock and to bring to life the first three words of the U.S. Constitution – ‘We the people.’”

“Now more than ever, this country needs truth, leadership and sensible, nonpartisan solutions to the key challenges that we face. The Americans Elect process will give every registered voter – no matter their party or point on the political spectrum – a say in how best to change course and right our ship of state so that our future will be better than our past.”

###
Let’s Make History!

Americans Elect

This press release, available now on the Americans Elect website in confirmation, stands in contradiction of Americans Elect’s declaration that it would remain neutral in the nomination process. It demonstrates a direct violation of Americans Elect’s own presidential nomination rules.

It would be hard to overstate the importance of this act by Americans Elect. It’s just demonstrated that its promises and pledges are not worthy of trust.

Dave Walker, Pete Peterson, Americans Elect and No Labels
As for that “Comeback America Initiative” Thomas Friedman mentions, come back with me to its founding in December of 2010, coincidentally right when No Labels was founded. It turns out that through the end of 2013, “The Comeback Initiative” is funded by the Peter G. Peterson Foundation and run by the Peter G. Peterson Foundation’s President and Chief Executive Officer. That’s David Walker:

New York, N.Y. — The Peter G. Peterson Foundation (PGPF) announced today that President and Chief Executive Officer, David M. Walker, will be leaving the Foundation to launch a new initiative focused on promoting and achieving specific fiscal solutions. The new organization will be entitled the Comeback America Initiative (CAI). Walker will serve as the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of CAI, which has received a three-year grant from PGPF and will engage the public and promote fiscal solutions, including those outlined in Walker’s book, Comeback America: Turning the Country Around and Restoring Fiscal Responsibility.

“Dave Walker has been a Paul Revere on the unsustainable fiscal outlook for our country. He has done a first rate job of getting our Foundation off to a fast start and raising awareness of the critical need for fiscal responsibility. We look forward to continuing to partner with Dave as he begins this important new initiative,” said Peter G. Peterson, Chairman of the Foundation.

Peter G. Peterson is known better as Pete Peterson. Who’s Pete Peterson? A billionaire who has been pushing for years for social security cuts and privatization. Also, a funder of Unity08, which underwent a name change to Americans Elect (Americans Elect won’t tell anyone who’s funding it now).

As for the connection between No Labels and David Walker, search for “David Walker” at No Labels and you’ll find a dozen articles singing his praises. Search for “Dave Walker” there and you’ll find 18 more. David Walker is listed as a “Founding Leader” of No Labels.

Is Pete Peterson a funder of No Labels? No Labels won’t tell anyone — it has refused to disclose the names of its funders. But notably, No Labels has been noting the priorities of Pete Peterson with gushing admiration since its inception last year at the same time as the inception of “The Comeback Initiative.”

Click here to review a list of known connections between No Labels and Americans Elect. They stretch back in time to at least the Fall of 2010.

David Walker and the actual American People
Inside the Americans Elect – No Labels – Pete Peterson nexus, David Walker is very popular. But is he popular with the actual American people living outside that nexus?

In order gain access to the Americans Elect ballot, Walker will have to gain somewhere between 10,000 and 50,000 votes of support by May. For about three weeks now, David Walker has been a draft candidate for the Americans Elect presidential nomination. With the actual American people, prior to the launch of a funded draft Walker effort, he’s not on pace to make the ballot. His current number of supporters after three weeks: 88.

Waiting for grassroots support for a Draft David Walker movement won’t get David Walker on the ballot. What would work? A well-funded effort by paid gatherers sent to stand outside supermarkets has worked for Americans Elect before. It could work again.

Given This, Questions Americans Elect Really Ought to Answer
1. Did Americans Elect issue a press release promoting the candidacy of David Walker?

Answer: Yes. The press release is available at Americans Elect’s website. This promotion of David Walker, issued after the press introduction of his presidential draft candidacy, is a violation of Americans Elect bylaws and pledges.

2. Has Americans Elect received funding from Pete Peterson or any person or entity associated with Pete Peterson?

3. Have Americans Elect and No Labels or their leaders or staffers been in communication with one another regarding David Walker?

I’ve directly asked Americans Elect these questions. See if Americans Elect’s leaders provide answers. They haven’t been forthcoming before. I hope they change course now.

19 comments to Violating Charter and Bylaws, No Labels and Americans Elect Promote Presidential Bid of Pete Peterson-Funded David Walker

  • Bill

    Lately there has been such a flurry of activity in/around Americans Elect Corporation concerning Walker that it is hard to escape the impression that he is now The Anointed One, secretly chosen by AECorp’s Titans of Finance puppetmasters as AECorp’s nominee for president (whether AECorp delegates like it or not):

    Feb. 8: As reported by Politico, Walker attends a “private information session” with AECorp at the home of Lynn Forester de Rothschild, a mega-rich AECorp ‘leader’. “Private information session” is AESpeak for a solicitation for the guest to declare as an AE candidate.

    Feb. 18: An opinion piece in the NY Times by Thomas Friedman (who, judging from the many fawning articles he has written about them, appears to be AE’s wholly-owned subsidiary at NYT) extolls the virtues of Walker as a perfect third-party candidate for president.

    Feb. 19: As noted by Politico, Walker issues a statement honoring the twentieth anniversary of Ross Perot’s third-party candidacy for president, crediting Perot with changing the dialog and thus ushering in the era of balanced budgets.

    Feb. 20: AECorp issues the fawning press release cited above in this article. Curiously, it names Walker as an AECorp “board member” — which comes as news to AECorp’s rank-and-file membership, since AECorp’s “Who We Are” page does not list him among the Board’s nine members…thus indicating that Walker’s appointment to the board is brand-new.

    Walker is a brilliant choice for AECorp’s Titans of Finance to make. What could be better than having a bean-counter as their puppet-president? Especially one who wants to shut down Social Security and Medicare. Woot! Now that’s redistribution of wealth we can believe in!

    Meanwhile, Walker’s draft candidacy at AECorp has just 87 votes of support, compared to the 50,000 votes he would need in order for his candidacy to be certified. Look for AECorp to change the rules soon in order to qualify him with just 10K votes…which would still be a stretch, unless AE simply buys itself 10K new members who will vote for Walker. After all, that’s the business AECorp is in: the business of buying support.

    • Bill,

      We’re writing over each other — I accidentally published this article while writing it, and noted many of the same sources you do in the finished version.

      As I note in the article, that press release should be called “apparent” at this point. I’m a bit suspicious of it. We don’t know who sent it to Rick Hasen, and we don’t have a second place it’s making an appearance. Could it be a fake sent to Hasen? It could. I’d like to see the documentation directly — not just the text as Rick Hasen published it — and I’d like to see a second source.

      • Bill

        Feel free to delete my comment if it’s redundant. Your point regarding the perhaps-questionable provenance of the purported AE press release is a good one. It would be nuts for AECorp to add to its Board its chosen candidate; that would blow its 501(c)(4) status right out of the water. Still, no one ever accused AECorp of making good decisions.

        Even if we must discount the purported press release, all the other activity makes it pretty clear that AE is engineering Walker’s candidacy. They must be getting pretty nervous right now, what with no ‘name brand’ individual willing to declare for AE so far. I mean, what if you threw a party and nobody came?

      • No, no, I wasn’t meaning to criticize you, just to explain why we are discussing many of the same points. No deletions! ;)

    • Joshua

      As the former Comptroller General, head of the General Accounting Office, wouldn’t Walker qualify as an “insider” by virtue of having been head of a federal agency? Thus, he should only need 1,000 signatures from each of 10 states, not the 5,000 signatures from each of 10 states that an “outsider” candidate would need.

      That said, nobody is on track to qualify for the AE ballot, not even Ron Paul, the most supported candidate so far. I would certainly consider it unusual if David Walker, someone I had never heard of until a few days ago, were able to qualify.

  • Check out http://fec.gov to find David Walker’s campaign contributions in Dec. 2011. Thousands of bucks to Jon Huntsman and Mitt Romney. Very odd. What explains this?

  • Joshua

    The press release under discussion is now being shown on the AE web site at http://www.americanselect.org/news/2-2012/press-release-david-walker-emblodens-voters-face-critical-challenges-our-nation — it looks the same as the one Rick Hasen posted. (The only changes I see are that the AE web site version has contact information for the press secretary at the bottom instead of the words “Let’s Make History!”, and the AE web site version misspells “emboldens”.)

    • I can’t believe it — well, I mean now I can, but I didn’t until now. They actually went out and started pushing David Walker’s cookie explicitly – holy cow. It was so brazen that I thought it would turn out to be a fake.

      Thanks for pointing out the update, Joshua. I’m going to revise the article to take out all the references to “apparent.” Americans Elect IS acting to promote the prospects of one very insiderly candidate.

      • Bill

        The IRS should be interested to learn of this egregious violation of AECorp’s beloved 501(c)(4) status…especially making Walker a Board member, for gosh sakes. The day Walker declares is the day I, for one, drop a dime on ‘em.

        • Bill

          Correction: the AECorp web site’s version of the PR refers to him as a member of the advisory board, not the BoD. Still a pretty clear conflict, however.

  • John Lumea

    Jim — just playing devil’s advocate here…

    It seems possible that — even if there *is* an Americans Elect campaign to promote a David Walker candidacy — AE could get off on a technicality, by claiming that the press release simply is to announce the addition of Walker to the Advisory Board.

    If you read the release carefully, it would not be difficult for AE to make this case.

  • John, thanks for writing. I understand that point and thought about it too when I first read the release…

    … but disagree with it at a “sniff test” level. This is an announcement made directly after the introduction of David Walker as a presidential candidate in the Americans Elect system. He’s in the system right now.

    The bylaws (see link in the article) say AE “shall not communicate or act in favor of or in opposition to any candidate for President or Vice President at any time before the adjournment of the online nominating convention of Americans Elect.” Writing a glowing endorsement of him as a human being right after he’s just been trotted out as a presidential candidate? Does that pass the sniff test of “communicating or acting in favor of a candidate for President or Vice President?”

    I don’t think it does pass the sniff test — not for me, obviously, but also not for your typical voter. And if Americans Elect wants to get cutesy with technicalities, that’s only going to make Americans Elect smell worse.

    In a few minutes, I’ll be writing up a little bit on another Americans Elect player suspiciously joining the pile-on for David Walker. His name has some letters in common with “Mayor McCheese.”

  • Bill

    AECorp’s tone deafness never fails to amaze (and amuse) me. The whole reason why a fresh new third party option is attractive to so many Americans is because we’re sick to our stomachs of political gamesmanship and systemic deception. And yet AECorp insists on demonstrating, over and over again, that it can game and deceive with the best of ‘em. If you read AECorp’s GetSatisfaction ‘customer’ board, you’ll see that this gaming is turning off AE members like crazy. That they continue — and even amp up — their gaming in the face of this rank-and-file revulsion only goes to illustrate that AE doesn’t really care a fig for its members; they are merely ‘numbers’ it can cite, not people whose support it values. Pawns.

  • Anonymous

    I remember a time, long ago, when I was but a wee naive lad. ‘Twas then that I believed Americans Elect might give us Americans some degree of democracy. But alas.

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