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Neutrality? Americans Elect Leader Tweets His Heart Out for Buddy Roemer

Update, April 3 2012: some time in the last two days, Americans Elect revised its Who We Are web page to remove reference to Lawrence Lessig as part of its “Leadership.” He is now listed there as a member of an official board of Americans Elect, without any reference to him being in “Leadership.”

Does Americans Elect have a neutrality policy regarding presidential candidates? Yes, it does.

Is Lawrence Lessig an Americans Elect leader? Yes, he is. [Update 4/3: see above for change as of the beginning of April 2012]

Do Americans Elect leaders have a large say in determining who gets to have ballot access and who doesn’t? Yes, they do.

Have Lawrence Lessig’s exact leadership duties been disclosed by Lessig or Americans Elect? No, they haven’t.

Is Lawrence Lessig heading out in public to promote presidential candidate Buddy Roemer? Yes, he is. Selected Lessig tweets:

Tweets by Americans Elect Leader Lawrence Lessig promoting the presidential candidacy of Buddy Roemer

As John Lumea points out, Lawrence Lessig wasn’t showing up on MSNBC TV in a spirit of dispassion:

Scarborough: Professor, do you agree with me that, of all the candidates that are out there right now in 2012, Buddy Roemer fits this profile best — and actually, I believe, has the best message, pure message, for 2012?

Lessig: Absolutely! I’ve been with Buddy, I had him at my house … Absolutely! … Absolutely! I don’t believe in his policies, but I believe in his reform, and I think — you’re right — that he is the one candidate that would have done something.

It would be helpful for Lawrence Lessig to disclose the entire extent of his coordination, communication with, and leadership for both Americans Elect and Buddy Roemer. This could clarify matters greatly — indicating whether his interests in promoting the Buddy Roemer candidacy and his interests in leading the Americans Elect corporation come in conflict.

23 thoughts on “Neutrality? Americans Elect Leader Tweets His Heart Out for Buddy Roemer”

  1. F.G. Fitzer says:

    Oh, but Lawrence Lessig is an ethicist, you see, so by definition, he can’t do anything wrong!

  2. tiradefaction says:

    That’s pretty odd honestly. Lawrence Lessig has been quite a vocal advocate for years for public financing of elections. I honestly doubt anything nefarious is going on with him, but maybe he’s not as aware as I thought he was…

  3. Stephen Kent Gray says:

    So that’s how Buddy Roemer rose to #1 draft position with 3401 trackers and 1932 supporters.

    In terms or draft, he would be between Jon Hunstsman (second place, 6528 trackers and 2296 supporters) and Bernie Sanders (third place, 3666 trackers and 1623 supporters).

    1. Joshua says:

      If you want to see all the AE candidates, both declared and draft, in the same listing ranked by number of supporters, the following URL still works:

      I don’t think that it’s actually linked on the site any more, but it works.

      1. Bill says:

        Hey, thanks for that link, Joshua. Another (perhaps even better) resource for understanding the true standings of the Miss Americans Elect contestants is the AE Transparency caucus’s weekly (every Saturday) update, which you can find on the “AE Transparency” Facebook page (or here for this week’s update: This is useful because what counts is not just getting 10K supporters (or 50K if the Board of Directors doesn’t like your face); what counts is getting 1K (or 5K) supporters in each of 10 states…which, when you stop to think about it, is quite a different thing (since total support clicks are distributed among 50 states).

        1. Bill says:

          Gads, what a marketing pro I am. I forgot to mention that AE Transparency’s Facebook page is here: Y’all come back now, hear?

  4. Nobody Asked Me...But, says:

    If Americans know the facts, no one would pick Roemer as President. The press has not revealed this information to the public about him. Perhaps it is because he has “enjoyed” insignificance so that journalists have not bothered to investigate.

    I have posted this information before but it is still little known, so I’ll post it again. Please examine the web pages cited. This information has been out there for years and has not been refuted. It is seasoned and reliable. It is fact.

    I was a Roemer donor and supporter, but when he switched over to Americans Elect, I became suspicious and started doing my homework on the internet.

    His talent as a speaker does not help him to accomplish anything once he has been elected. In fact, he was one of the worst governors in Louisiana history. He could not get along with people. He could not put together a competent staff. He lacked the political ability to pass legislation. He loves campaigning but has no desire to govern. To see Buddy’s ineffective record as governor and congressman look at this excellent history of Louisiana’s governors, pages 259-268:,+but+never+in+doubt%22+Roemer&source=bl&ots=GXt38E_jVv&sig=poXJMn9QbCUESjDIP2-foOb3YLY&hl=en&sa=X&ei=n-xjT7CXDOORiQL8n_SiDw&ved=0CGMQ6AEwCA#v=onepage&q=%22Often%20wrong%2C%20but%20never%20in%20doubt%22%20Roemer&f=false

    As a congressman he was inept. He chaired no committees and authored no bills. His only accomplishment was that he won money at poker games. Yes, he was a convincing bluffer. See page 12 at Incredibly, when asked recently how he would open up communication in Washington as president, he answered that he “would emphasize listening and working in a bipartisan way, through poker games.”

    Most of the things he says about his past, when he is not using his insincere self-deprecating humor, is false. See this web page where he obtained a reputation in Louisiana as a “consummate liar.”

    He lied when he said he built a “billion dollar bank.” He says whatever pops into his head that sounds good. It is $650 million and its ratio of “troubled assets” is higher than the national median for banks:

    He lies about the reason he was not invited to any debate. The debates were run by the networks and they set the rules, not the Republican party. The networks announced that the candidates must have received only 1% at least on several national polls (as the debates went on, they increased the thresholds). Buddy sometimes claims he had 4% or 5% on national polls and at other times he will say 2%, but they still would not let him on. The truth is that he never received anything close to 1% on any national poll. He did not meet the standards. If he had 1% or 2% or 4%, he would have been on all the debates.

    He claims that he did not do well in polls because he was not on any debate. Not true. In New Hampshire he received only 4 votes out of a 1000. He campaigned exclusively in NH for over 3 months, face-to-face in long personal talks to the voters all around the state. That is better than a debate. It is the most powerful “retail politics.” He spent over $100K on ads. He appeared on radio and TV interviews. His showing was a politician’s worst disgrace, at the very bottom of the pack, lower than others who were not even running.

    His $100 limit is only hypocrisy to grab attention and appear more honest than the others. He said that is how he ran successfully his entire career. False. In 1987 he reported $5,000 checks, and the book cited above describes his failed 1995 campaign as “lavishly financed.” He now seeks the nomination of Americans Elect. It is financed by a few secret big money donors. They are not democratic. They are not transparent. They will not nominate him unless they know that he will do their bidding. Those hidden big-money donors want even more than to influence the President; they want to select him. So in the final analysis, Roemer is just selling himself out for the big money, big check donors. He sure fooled me.

    1. Jim Cook says:

      Fact check: “authored no bills.”

      100th Congress: authored 2 bills
      99th Congress: authored 6 bills and 2 amendments
      98th Congress: authored 5 bills and 3 amendments
      97th Congress: authored 1 bill and 1 amendment

      And of course he wasn’t chair of any committees — you have to be in the Congress for years to gain sufficient seniority to take a committee chair.

      I’m not a fan of Buddy Roemer, but I don’t think these legislative claims about Roemer have a basis in fact.

  5. Anonymous says:

    It’s ironic that Buddy’s own staff think that he needs to get 10K supporters. Actually, he needs 1K supporters in each of ten states. What with there being, at last count, some 50 states, he will need substantially more than 10K supporters in total in order to achieve that.
    It’s hard to find good help anymore.

  6. Lessig says:

    Mr. Cook:

    I’m not among the “leadership” of AE. I serve on an uncompensated advisory board which has no power except the power of advice.

    1. Jim Cook says:

      Mr. Lessig,

      Thank you for writing. You are explicitly listed as part of the “Leadership” on this page:

      And you have been making coordinated appearances re: Americans Elect presidential candidates on TV.

      Could you specify what exact activities you have engaged in for Americans Elect — specifically?

  7. Lessig says:

    Thanks for link. I hadn’t seen that. My only activity with them has been to raise criticisms and concerns with their management. I helped people concerned about the voting technology get access to the staff. I have raised concerns about how they frame priorities.

    1. Jim Cook says:

      Thank you for responding.

  8. Jim Cook says:

    Update: it’s not true that Lawrence Lessig’s “only activity with them has been to raise criticisms and concerns with their management.”

    Lawrence Lessig is cooperating to lend legitimacy to Americans Elect through advertisement of his endorsement of Americans Elect along with his reputation as an ethicist in press releases like this.

    Lessig wasn’t complete in his above response. He is an active supporter, not simply a participant critic, of Americans Elect. He’s even gone on TV to promote it as a solution. I wish Lessig would be complete in disclosing his activities regarding Americans Elect.

  9. Lessig says:

    Jim, you’re moving the ball. You charged that I was among the “leadership” of American’s elect. I said I was not — that I was a member of an advisory board because I had been giving them advice about how to do what they are doing. But now you’re charging me with not being clear about my support for what they’re doing. Yet I’ve published a book that includes a chapter that describes precisely how and why I support what they’re doing.

    So, compare: In 2008, I was a supporter of Obama. But I was not among the “leadership” in his campaign. As a supporter, I had a right (as a citizen) to be passionate about him. I exercised that right — openly and honestly. What’s wrong with that?

    1. Jim Cook says:

      I’m not “charging,” Larry. I’m saying, because Americans Elect itself refers to you as part of its “Leadership,” both on its “Who We Are” web page. It uses your endorsement to legitimize itself in its press release this week, covering itself with the Lessig Ethical Brand while citing your leadership role on the Board of Advisors. You have taken a leading role advocating for Americans Elect over the past few weeks, while using your position and authority to simultaneously promote your favored presidential candidate.

      You have moved from the role of outside academic disinterested commentator to inside-ball political player… and that makes your activities relevant, especially because you contiue to draw upon your brand as a disinterested ethicist to promote the party and the candidate in which you’re interested.

  10. Jim Cook says:

    And by the by, I’m not moving the goalposts. I asked before you responded (and I’m grateful for your communication) what your specific activities are — it doesn’t appear that you were complete in your response, and I’m noting that. You aren’t just a quiet ombudsman within Americans Elect — you’re acting as a promoter.

    You absolutely have the right to be passionate about causes you believe in. Let’s just be clear that you are an insider and acting to lead and to advocate, not to comment as a disinterested intellectual observer.

    1. lessig says:


      I do think you’re moving the goal line.

      You’re charge was that “leadership” at AE wasn’t neutral. It was a fair charge because the AE website listed me as “leadership” when all I am is on a board of advisors. That’s since been corrected. As a member of the advisory board, I owe AE no duty of loyalty, and am free to support whomever I wish (including a non-AE candidate). So that means I am not “leadership” or an “insider” and that means “AE’s” leadership is not violating neutrality — as you charged.

      But now your charge is different — and again, why you’re moving the “goalposts.” You’re saying there’s something wrong with me moving from being a “disinterested intellectual observer” to being a supporter of someone, and that I haven’t been completely forthcoming about my activities related to AE.

      Again, w/r/t the second: Not true. Again, I wrote a book that details my activities for and against AE. I get you may not have read that. But your not reading something doesn’t make me not “transparent.”

      And w/r/t the first: I don’t even understand what the charge is. I’m “disinterested” certainly in that I have no financial stake in this (save as a citizen). And if you mean I have a view which I try to convince people of, then I haven’t been “disinterested” in 20 years.

      (and btw: you don’t seem to have the site configured properly: the notification email has a cool button to take you back to reply, but the button delivers a 404).

      1. Ralph says:

        Lessig has said two things on this thread that are not true:
        1. He has said he is not in the “leadership” of Americans Elect. This was not true, because the Americans Elect website referred to him as a “leader.”
        2. He has said that his “only activity with them has been to raise criticisms and concerns with their management.” This was not true, because he has also been actively involved in promoting Americans Elect.

        It could be argued that the first untruth has been corrected, because the reference to the Board of Advisors as “leaders” has been removed from the Americans Elect website. If, as Mr. Lessig claims, Americans Elect was misrepresenting him to the public without his knowledge, this was an unintentional untruth and not a lie.

        It is harder to argue that the second untruth was unintentional or happened without Mr. Lessig’s knowledge. After all, he is aware of the actions he has taken on Americans Elect’s behalf, and these certainly are not limited to only raising criticisms and concerns.

        Here is where things get interesting. Mr. Lessig seems to be trying to say that he didn’t lie on this website because he told the truth in his book. (The actual conversation is more slippery, and uses terms like “forthcoming,” “clear,” and “transparent”–none of which are in any case defensible if you compare the truth to what Mr. Lessig said.) That doesn’t follow–just because you tell the truth somewhere doesn’t mean you haven’t lied somewhere else. The bottom line is, Mr. Lessig said something even though he knew it was not true.

        1. Jim Cook says:

          Excellent pickup, Ralph! “Leadership” has indeed been rewritten on to read “Board of Advisors.” Doesn’t mean that Americans Elect didn’t in the past explicitly refer to Lawrence Lessig as part of its “Leadership.”

      2. Jim Cook says:


        You write: “You’re saying there’s something wrong with me moving from being a “disinterested intellectual observer” to being a supporter of someone, and that I haven’t been completely forthcoming about my activities related to AE.”

        No. No, I’m not saying that at all. I think it’s great when people take positions. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with you moving from being a disinterested intellectual observer (having a point of view about the structure of the game but not entering the game) to being a supporter of Americans Elect and a supporter of Buddy Roemer (entering the game). I think there’s a problem with you doing that and actively characterizing yourself right here, earlier in this here thread, as only engaged in activities criticizing Americans Elect from within. When you said that, that wasn’t true, and it’s not moving the goalposts to point that out, especially since I aired a request for such information when writing the initial post.

        I won’t go so far as Ralph, who accuses you of lying. I will say that I think putting one foot into activities that promote Americans Elect while having a position with Americans Elect, and another foot into activities that promote the particular candidate (Buddy Roemer) who’s been most strongly tied in public to Americans Elect leadership over a long period of time — the talks, the joint appearance beforehand, the amazingly coincidental decision by Americans Elect’s ranking that Buddy Roemer is the one politician out of hundreds in all of America who has the best match with the political ideas of the American People — is like stepping into a smelly mire for someone who identifies himself as an ethicist, given Americans Elect’s history of ethical problems.

        On those ethical problems of Americans Elect, I can come up with a top-ten list of ethical problems with Americans Elect if you’d like — but more than that I’d love to see your top-ten list of Americans Elect’s problems, since as someone who’s been in communication with the Americans Elect leadership (and who was listed by Americans Elect as part of its “Leadership”) you must have some good information there. I’ve spoken with reporters at multiple newspapers who can’t get their calls to Americans Elect returned. Would you share?

        By the way, what do you think of the history of others very clearly, very actively in Americans Elect leadership communicating and acting in support of particular presidential candidates? What do you think of Christine Todd Whitman’s, Mark McKinnon’s and Lady Lynn Forester de Rothschild’s activities to communicate and act in favor of particular presidential candidates? What do you think of that in light of the revelation by Americans Elect Political Director Darry Sragow that yeah, the goal of Americans Elect is despite denials to get a centrist politician as president?

        P.S. I should be transparent myself, and when I get into long discussions like this I do. My actual name is Jim Cook (Jim’s short for James). My address is 52 Conway Road, Camden ME 04843. I called together a single Green Party caucus in my town a few years back when a Green Party official asked me to in order to help assure that the Green Party would get ballot access, but that’s been my only affiliation with any party and after that caucus I dissolved that affiliation. Never been a Democrat. Never been a Republican. I’ve never worked for a political party or candidate or political organization or para-political organization, and I’m not taking anyone’s money to discuss Americans Elect. I’ve just been paying attention to Americans Elect since it was Unity08, and have been writing with a skeptical eye regarding the Unity08-Americans Elect development since it became apparent to me in 2006 that what Unity08 said and what it did were strongly at odds. I don’t like fibbers who throw big wads of money around to mess with American politics while they throw out deceptive catchphrases and rig their processes while cloaking them in the mantle of democracy. When I see Americans Elect do that, I write about it. That’s all.

        P.P.S. Thanks for the info on the notification button — that is a feature of WordPress software which appears to have a glitch.

        1. Ralph says:

          Oh no, Jim. If you read my post super carefully, you’ll see that I never accuse Larry of lying. I merely point out the implausibility of his apparent claim NOT to have lied. See how carefully I worded that? Can I run for president now?

          1. Jim Cook says:

            Hee, hee.

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