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Unity08 All Over Again: Americans Elect Leader Steps Down to Start Draft David Walker Campaign

When it became clear that despite its money and inside connections Unity08 was not attracting popular support, its two chief leaders abandoned their pretense to not having a preferred presidential candidate and stepped down from Unity08 to start the Draft Bloomberg Committee. It turned out that the connections between Unity08 and the Draft Bloomberg Committee were extensive: Unity08 gave money to the Draft Bloomberg Committee. Multiple Unity08 staffers also went to work on the Draft Bloomberg Committee along with the Unity08 chiefs. Unity08 shared office space with the Draft Bloomberg Committee too. Finally, it turned out that Unity08 had reserved the domain name draftmichaelbloomberg.com a year before.

Americans Elect is Unity08 continued; the two groups even lived in the same office space. In 2012, Americans Elect has apparently inherited the Unity08 spin-off strategy as well.

As in recent weeks it has become clear that despite its money and inside connections Americans Elect is not attracting popular support, a group within Americans Elect has begun efforts to kick start a presidential campaign, this time for someone named David Walker. Ned Martel of the Washington Post breaks the news behind the mysterious change, starting with the leaders and advisers who form the core of Americans Elect:

…from those advisers may come Americans Elect’s face-saving option. In the past month, a small group of activists has emerged to recruit Dave Walker, an independent who once ran the Government Accountability Office, to run for president. Walker, who is on the Americans Elect board of advisers, said that he knew about the effort and that an Americans Elect employee had stepped down to lead the draft movement. Also in recent weeks, Americans Elect changed the requirements Walker needs to meet to win the nomination, revising the number of online supporters to 1,000 in 10 states instead of 5,000 in 10 states.

“This is an issue-oriented movement, and they’re trying to put a face to the movement,” Walker said in a phone interview. He said his mission has long been deficit reduction and the reorganization of the national debt. “For whatever reason, they believe I’m a person who symbolizes that. I guess they kind of view me as a means to an end.”

Americans Elect leaders have promoted and done favors for a Draft Walker committee, and one of them (unnamed) has even moved over into overt leadership of this Draft Walker committee. And just as in 2008 Draft Bloomberg Committee leaders swore that it was “unrelated” to Unity08 (when it turned out it was in many ways), in 2012 David Walker is taking to the news media to insist that the Draft Walker committee is “unrelated” to Americans Elect:

“Reports in the media have mentioned an effort to draft me as a candidate for President through the Americans Elect (AE) process, and I want to clarify my position. I am aware of this recent independent movement to draft me, which is an initiative by people who evidently share my views regarding the need for fiscal, political and other major reforms to keep America great. Importantly, their effort is unrelated to the Comeback America Initiative (CAI), No Labels, and AE organizations.

“While I appreciate and am humbled by their efforts, I am not a candidate and don’t expect to become one. Rather, I am focused on my many responsibilities, including serving as CEO of the non-partisan CAI, as a national co-founder of No Labels, and as a member of AE’s Board of Advisors.”

The second paragraph is a typical non-Shermanesque statement by a person who hopes to become a candidate in the future; notice the careful choice of words.

And who was talking about the Comeback America Initiative and No Labels? How very odd of David Walker to be specifically denying involvement by the Comeback America Initiative and No Labels when nobody in the media has been mentioning these groups as behind the Draft Walker committee along with Americans Elect. A curious choice, don’t you think?

And now that David Walker mentions it…

What group spent last fall organizing a “Draft Dave Walker” online campaign? Why, it was No Labels.

What group was asking people this February to spread around Thomas Friedman’s column calling on David Walker to run for president? Why, it was No Labels.

What group has extensive documented connections with Americans Elect? Why, No Labels.

What group was founded the very same month as No Labels? Why, the Comeback America Initiative.

Whose policy ideas has No Labels been fawning over since its creation? Why, Peter G. Peterson’s.

Who provides funding for “most of the operations” of the Comeback America Initiative? Why, Peter G. Peterson.

Who was President and Chief Executive Officer of the Peter G. Peterson Foundation immediately before taking on his position as head of the new Comeback America Initiative, funded by the Peter G. Peterson Foundation? Why, David Walker.

Is No Labels funded by Peter G. Peterson? No Labels refuses to answer that question.

Is Americans Elect funded by Peter G. Peterson? Americans Elect refuses to answer that question.

Was Unity08, Americans Elect’s direct predecessor, funded by Peter G. Peterson? Why, yes. Oh, yes indeed. Pete Peterson gave the maximum-allowable contribution at the time.

But David Walker says these groups are entirely unrelated to the Draft David Walker movement that otherwise has essentially no popular support. And since David Walker says so, without prompting by anyone in the media, why, it must be so. Just one of those curious thingamabobs that happens now and then, surely.

Forward, democracy!

10 comments to Unity08 All Over Again: Americans Elect Leader Steps Down to Start Draft David Walker Campaign

  • Thanks go to John Lumea for pointing me to the recent Washington Post and Politico pieces referenced in this article.

  • The Peterson Foundation’s 2010 IRS Form 990 filing is a fun read. A central purpose of Form 990 is to make publicly available information regarding a tax-exempt organization’s finances — particularly its executive compensation. But when Walker was CEO there he used an accounting trick (hey, he is, after all, an accountant!) in order to avoid reporting his own compensation on Form 990. We can only surmise that he was paid so obscenely much that even he found the number embarrassing.

  • Jerry Thomas

    I am monitoring/participating in the organizations mentioned in this article with a skeptical eye. Although I don’t believe I would support David Walker as a Presidential candidate, he appears to be someone I can respect which is more than can be said for the ‘conservative’ candidate(s).

  • How do you know it is an Americans Elect “leader” who quit to head up a Draft Committee for Walker? The article just says it was an “employee” and doesn’t name the person, unless I didn’t read the story carefully enough.

  • We sure hope that ‘employee’ didn’t give up a well-paying job at AECorp to work for Walker…’cause whatever he’s doing, it isn’t working: as of right now (1 PM ET 4/18) Walker has harvested just 10 ‘qualifying’ votes, nationwide, since we last checked his stats on Saturday, 4/14. At this rate it will be sometime in the 22nd Century before Walker qualifies for the next round of balloting at AECorp.

  • Joshua

    Trying to manage an AE candidate’s campaign must be like a procrastinating student trying to complete their work for the semester:

    “I have a 50-page term paper due in 5 days. So all I have to do is write 10 pages a night and I’ll be fine.”
    The next morning:
    “I have a 50-page term paper due in 4 days, I already wrote 2 pages, so all I have to do is write 12 pages a night …”

    And then the student goes on to work for an AE candidacy: “All we need are 200 new supporters a day …”

    • Man, I never thought of that analogy, Joshua. You’re absolutely right.

      It can’t be said too often: Americans Elect brought its voter apathy problem upon itself. If it had any popular, well-known, and highly respected names on its roster it would bring in the voters without even breaking a sweat. And if it was a respectable organization that didn’t embarrass the hell out of anyone within fifty miles of it, it would attract popular, well-known, highly respected candidates. But Ackerman, in his infinite hubris, invested zero effort in reputation building, in all-important transparency, in earning trust and respect and esteem. He is, apparently, the last person on earth who actually believes, with respect to the internet, that “if you build it they will come.” The man appears to be the very caricature of a moneyed sense of entitlement. “I don’t have to explain myself to anybody. I’m rich!”

      And he has set back the cause of digital democracy by at least a decade. Most failed internet companies become business school case studies. Ackerman Selects will become a political science case study: how not to do ‘digital democracy.’

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