In the nation’s first corporate-run, privatized, online presidential nomination, it’s easier for some candidates to get on the ballot than others. According to the Americans Elect Rules, if you’re an insider —
Vice President, United States Senator, Member of Congress, Presidential Cabinet Member, Head of a federal agency, Governor, Mayor of any of the largest 100 cities in the United States, Chairman or Chief Executive Officer or President of any corporation or nonprofit corporation or philanthropic organization with 1,000 or more employees, President of a national labor union with 100,000 or more members, military officer who has attained flag rank, Ambassador, and President of an American-based university with more than 4,000 students
— then to get on the Americans Elect presidential nomination ballot you have to convince only 1,000 people in each of 10 states to vote for you on the Americans Elect website (a total of 10,000 people). If on the other hand you’re an outsider — not holding an office described above — then you need to find 5,000 people in each of 10 states to vote for you (a total of 50,000 people).
Yesterday, AE Transparency broke the news that Americans Elect had quietly upgraded the candidate status of David Walker from outsider to insider. David Walker is no ordinary Americans Elect candidate, either. In a possible conflict of interest, he happens to sit on the Americans Elect Board of Advisors, and Americans Elect leaders have sung the praises of David Walker over and over and over again.
To be honest, I didn’t believe AE Transparency’s report — not that I thought the report was a lie, but that there must be some mistake. For Americans Elect to…
- change the ballot access standard for a single candidate,
- who happens to be on its Board of Advisors,
- and has been the recipient of Americans Elect leaders’ open support,
- three-quarters of the way through the ballot-access voting period
… just sounded too far out, too overtly insiderish, like something you’d read from a dime-store potboiler paperback. But I looked into it. It’s true.
Here’s a screen capture of David Walker’s candidate page on Americans Elect on March 27 2012, taken from the cache of a Bing search (search caches are always useful for backward-looking research):
And here’s a screen capture of David Walker’s candidate page on Americans Elect on April 8 2012.
As you can see, the standard for David Walker was lowered last week. Along with the changed standard, David Walker’s title has been renamed from “Other” to “Former Head of a Federal Agency” (Walker is a former head of the General Accountability Office).
I’m agnostic on the question of whether David Walker has experience as the head of a “federal agency.” AE Transparency quotes Section 551 of the U.S. Code to establish that, legally speaking, a “federal agency” only refers to an administrative office of the executive branch, and the General Accountability Office that Walker headed up is an office of the Congress. But I can see how one might classify the GAO as a “federal agency” outside of the strictures of legality, since it certainly an agency and is a part of the federal government.
Regardless of that substantive question, it is procedurally curious for Americans Elect to be so quietly making this move particularly on behalf of David Walker. I sincerely don’t understand why would Americans Elect do this. It’s not like there’s been a groundswell of popular support for the Draft Walker movement in the month and a half since a multi-pronged publicity campaign on behalf of Walker was rolled out. As of this morning, Walker is less than 1% of the way to his newly-lowered ballot access threshold of 1,000 votes in each of 10 states — and he has only 28 days to go until the first primary ballot. Unless Walker plans to tap into his funding stream from billionaire Pete Peterson and start paying people to collect votes for him, I don’t see how Walker could possibly take advantage of Americans Elect’s new favorable action.
Add this curiosity to the long list of curiosities regarding Americans Elect. As Americans Elect comes ever-closer to finishing the current ballot-access vote and beginning its primary nomination votes, we can expect such curiosities to accumulate.
Update, 4/10: Kudos to Astute Dent, who notices that David Walker is the only draft candidate in Americans Elect to have the privilege of his own “bio” tab attached to his candidate page.