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Every Identifiable Student in new Draft David Walker Video is Americans Elect Campus Leader

Americans Elect is supposed to be neutral. But is the infrastructure of Americans Elect being used to promote David Walker for President?

Look for yourself. Watch this new “Draft Walker” video featuring a series of college students:

I can’t positively identify all of these students. But without a doubt in my heart, I see the following in the video:

Nolan DiFrancesco, Americans Elect Campus Leader

Aaron Tucek, Americans Elect Campus Leader

Lincoln Davidson, Americans Elect Campus Leader

Stephanie Blasnik, Americans Elect Campus Leader

Publicly-available images of the above students confirm their identity and match the images in the videos.

Add to these the following Americans Elect Campus Leaders who within two days of the launching of the Draft David Walker website were among the grand total of 8 people who had signed the pledge to support David Walker for President (nobody else has joined in since):

Pratik Ghosh
Niki Cvitkovich
Blake Wright
Stephanie Blasnik

I can anticipate the AE/DW public relations response, so let me clarify: I am not questioning the sincerity of these college students. I am not accusing these students of anything. I am questioning how they came to be part of the Draft Walker campaign if not through the Americans Elect Campus Leaders system. I am questioning the actual leaders of the Draft Walker campaign and of Americans Elect.

I say “actual leaders” because the actual leaders of Draft David Walker are not, despite what you might think from watching this video, college students. The co-chairs of the committee, Yoni Gruskin and Ryan Schoenike, are college graduates who are heading up two groups funded by the Concord Coalition — which is funded by Pete Peterson, who in turn funds David Walker’s Comeback America Initiative (see documentation of all this here).

As Draft Walker social media head Solomon Kleinsmith has verified in correspondence, leading the organization above these co-chairs is Georgetown graduate Nick Troiano, who stepped down as Americans Elect National Campus Director a couple of days before resurfacing as the head of Draft Walker. As National Campus Director, Nick Troiano’s job was to build up a stable of Campus Leaders on behalf of Americans Elect.

According to Nick Troiano himself, his Draft Walker effort didn’t exist before the week of April 8. How did so many Americans Elect Campus Leaders, along with Americans Elect’s National Campus Director, all manage to so swiftly be converted into Draft David Walker campus leaders? How did this Americans Elect resource come to be exploited on behalf of Draft David Walker?

Did each one of these numerous Americans Elect Campus Leaders decide independently, on their own, to join this funny group they’d heard about called the Committee to Get Walker Running — a committee nobody in the country heard about until this past week? The statistical odds of that are staggeringly low.

Did Nick Troiano talk to the Americans Elect Campus Leaders and ask them to make the move? If so, was that before or after Nick Troiano left his job as Americans Elect National Campus Director?

Was there some third party involved who communicated with Americans Elect National Campus Director Nick Troiano and each one of these Americans Elect Campus Leaders?

David Walker appears in a Draft Walker Video, April 26 2012

I don’t know the answers to these questions, and perhaps my limited imagination has been unable to imagine the perfectly reasonable explanation for all this.

Perhaps. Regardless, Americans Elect and the Committee to Get Walker Running should understand that this striking coincidence raises questions, especially considering that Americans Elect has an explicit neutrality policy. It would be unfair to the hundreds of draft committees currently registered with Americans Elect if just one of them were able to exploit Americans Elect resources. It is an especially concerning development considering that David Walker himself appears in the above video and is still (after an update last week) listed as a member of the Americans Elect Board of Advisors.

It would be in the best interest of Americans Elect and the Committee to Get Walker Running to explain themselves fully, transparently, verifiably and quickly.

Update, April 27: Here are a few screen captures I took of that public video before the Draft Walker Committee took it down, just to verify that the video did show what I said it did.

Update #2, 4/27/2012: Nick Troiano, without being specific about his role in this regard, is defending whatever action he took with the phrase Remember the Right to Free Association?

Nobody’s questioning anybody’s constitutional rights. What are being questioned are the ethical parameters of the choice to exercise those rights, apparently making use of Americans Elect resources while Americans Elect is pledged to be neutral toward presidential candidates. I’ve asked Nick Troiano to explain. I’ll let you know if I get an answer.

14 comments to Every Identifiable Student in new Draft David Walker Video is Americans Elect Campus Leader

  • I guess balding wall street drones are “in” for some college students?

  • SMG

    I’m not sure this one can be laid at the doorstep of AE.
    My read is that the defectors are disappointed in Buddy Roemer’s performance and have somehow come to believe in picking a Party over a President, despite the party slogan. So, because they think Walker’s a swell guy personally, they’re now claiming that they’re trying to make AE work from the outside.
    However, I agree that it’s unethical for AE employees to use their contacts on behalf of any candidate, whether they quit AE or not. I have heard that it’s impossible for candidates on AE to reach out to their own supporters inside AE (which seems kind of dumb, really.) Building it out through reverse engineering defeats AE’s blind system. If you know who the AE people are through contacts obtained through AE and exploit them on behalf of a candidate, that’s clearly unfair to candidates who do not have the ability to obtain those personal contacts through AE.
    People who claim to be supporting Walker in the name of supporting AE are either incredibly naive or flat-out lying about it. I’m not sure which. AE may be technologically advanced but the whole system, as pitched, is incredibly naive. Why shouldn’t the employees be also?

  • It is telling that even with the vast resources of billionaires Pete Peterson and Pete Ackerman behind him, and nationwide media attention, David Walker just plain can’t manage to make the needle move for his peek-a-boo candidacy at Americans Elect (see our updated Weakly Voting Highlights every Saturday afternoon). It’s worth asking why this is. Here’s what we think:

    1. Money isn’t everything. Ross Perot, Jon Huntsman, and many other zillionaire candidates (or those, like Walker, bankrolled by zillionaire sugar-daddies) have learned this the hard way. You have to have a message that both resonates and makes sense to the electorate. Without that your money is useless (unless you’re handing it out in brown paper bags).

    2. Most voters aren’t one-dimensional. Walker is. His one-trick-pony fixation on axe-murdering the federal budget…particularly safety-net programs such as Social Security and Medicare…is just too simplistic for thoughtful voters.

    3. Fly with the crows, get shot with the crows. Americans Elect has so degraded itself with its autocratic governance, sneaky tricks, and anonymous mega-bucks that it is now highly radioactive. Any candidate who gets in the same room with it dies instantly. Think Roemer, or Anderson, either of whom might have had a shot at the ballot if they’d just stayed far away from AECorp.

    4. White collars on blue dress shirts (a Walker favorite) don’t make it. Why not add a green eyeshade and some sleeve garters while you’re at it? That oughta wow the kids. Image consultant needed here, Dave.

    • Daniel H

      Roemer would not have made it without Americans Elect. Don’t forget Roemer is running for the Reform Party too and we havent heard a peep from them. Besides what would the donors want Roemer to do for them if he won? Americans Elect isn’t running for president like the other parties are, Buddy is.

      In fact you can ask Buddy himself today at 2pm ET in the IAmA tab of reddit.com. Buddy is not afraid of answering controverisal questions. Even from you.

  • Bill

    I love that the DraftWalker video now says “This video is private.” A powerful campaign tool, indeed.

    • Bill

      I guess Pete Ackerman had a hissy-fit and took Nick Troiano out behind the barn after he saw your report this morning, Jim. Way to go!

      • According to Draft Walker social media guru and rising centrist Solomon Kleinsmith, “[Yoni] Gruskin and [Ryan] Schoenike chair the org, and Nick [Troiano] directs it.”

        On his personal Twitter account, Troiano tweeted, in the wee hours of yesterday morning, about having “finished an 8 hour marathon editing session for a new and forthcoming @DraftWalker video.”

        But the fact that, apart from on YouTube itself, Draft Walker never so much as mentioned the video on any of its own channels — Web site, Facebook, Twiiter — and that, now, the video has been pulled strongly suggests to me that Troiano is not really “directing” this operation at all.

        But, if not, the question is: Who is?

        My guess: It’s not Yoni Gruskin or Ryan Schoenike.

    • Jim Cook

      Good thing I took screen captures. Always take screen captures of public documents in case they are pulled. I’m indisposed right now but will stick them up later today.

      • Bill

        It’s a sad testament to the morals of Americans Elect that it is, indeed, so very important to grab screencaps whenever you talk about them. They use the power of the internet to bring a whole new meaning to “flip-flop.” If something they do embarrasses them (and, lately, everything they do embarrasses them) they just make it go away with the click of a mouse. This will be one of the many bullet points when poli-sci courses start performing their post-mortems on Americans Elect Corporation’s take on digital democracy: if you’re going to pretend to run a ‘primary’ on the internet, treat it with the gravitas and ethical standards which an election demands; don’t just go waving your digital magic wand every time something inconvenient pops up.

    • Joshua

      I didn’t watch the video when it was available — but I don’t know what the problem might have been that caused them to take it private.

      If the AE campus leaders in the video were volunteers for AE (as opposed to being paid), then it wouldn’t violate AE policy for them to support a particular candidate.

      And it doesn’t surprise me that the college students who could most easily be identified as David Walker supporters would be AE volunteers. I wouldn’t expect to find lots of Walker supporters in the College Democrats or the College Republicans.

      • Bill

        Maybe the College Non-Partisans?

      • Joshua,

        You are (unwittingly, I hope) echoing the Lessig Argument here, which seems to be: Not Compensated? No Problem! — i.e., the idea that, if there is no money involved, then there is no potential for conflict.

        But Section 10 of the corporate Rules of Americans Elect doesn’t make money the issue:

        Until the Americans Elect ticket has been selected by majority vote of participating Delegates in the Nominating Round of voting, Americans Elect shall be neutral with respect to all Candidates and shall not endorse, oppose, advance, or advocate any particular Candidate.

        The straightforward, commonsense reading is that this Rule is a broad mandate — that the “Americans Elect” of the phrase “Americans Elect shall be neutral” includes both (1) the organization as a whole (as reflected in official decisions of the Board of Directors and the Board’s committees) and (2) the statements and actions of individual Americans Elect directors, executive staff, advisors and volunteers who, whether paid or unpaid, are officially empowered by Americans Elect to publicly represent the organization.

        That includes Lessig. And it includes the student volunteers who were the Americans Elect reps at their respective campuses.

        It would have been Troiano’s responsibility, as the National Campus Director, to make unmistakably clear to these volunteers the Americans Elect policy on neutrality.

        Interesting that Troiano uses the neutrality policy as the reason why “I had to leave my job and my paycheck.”

        As to the video: My guess is that the problem was the Walker clip.

  • I’ve had no response from Nick Troiano.

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