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Americans Elect Form 990 for 2011 — Read it Here

Before the legally-required 30-day deadline after my request, and with its two legally-available delays exhausted, the Americans Elect corporation sent its 2011 IRS Form 990 to me in the mail last week. Form 990 reveals organizational and financial information about a 501c4 corporation like Americans Elect, information in greater detail than Americans Elect has disseminated beyond its inner circle before.

I’ve scanned in Americans Elect’s Form 990 for 2011 so that you can read it for yourself — click here. There are some interesting figures in there if you’re willing to poke around a bit to find them. I’ll be writing about what I think the Form 990 reveals over the next day or two.

6 comments to Americans Elect Form 990 for 2011 — Read it Here

  • Looks like you are going to have plenty to talk about. Low-hanging fruit from the first pages:
    1. There are 8 voting members, but only 4 independent voting members of the governing body. Does this mean there could be 1 voting member who controls 5 (a majority of) votes?
    2. They mention the dread “nonpartisan process” in their mission statement, but they clearly had partisan requirements such as Pres and VP candidate being from different parties and ignored the lesser parties. I recall you had a lot on that n word before.
    3. number of volunteers: 0
    4. Did the org maintain donor advised funds? No.
    (maybe it’s not donor advised if you put the donor on the board? )
    5. Did the org engage in …. political campaigns … for candidates? No. (didn’t you identify the candidates in previous articles who got donations at the end of the campaign? I guess they would suggest all the other candidates promoted on didn’t really have campaigns.)

    • Joshua


      #3: “Donor advised funds” are a specific type of charitable fund. They wouldn’t apply to an organization like AE. (AE is no doubt beholden to its large donors, but that’s a separate issue.)

      #5: This is the 2011 return — AE didn’t start openly endorsing candidates such as Angus King until 2012. (And they didn’t even make it possible for delegates to start clicking on behalf of their candidates until January 31, 2012.)

    • Joshua


      #1: “Independent” in this context refers to certain financial arrangements (not to one director controlling the votes of others). Kahlil Byrd is not an independent director, because he received a salary from AE. Peter Ackerman and Irvine Hockaday are not considered independent either, because they had made loans to AE. I can’t determine from what I read who the fourth non-independent director would be.

      • Dove

        Interesting. So director is not “independent” if he gives money or gets money, but the directors who do not get money are not counted as volunteers.

        • Joshua

          I can’t figure that part out. The instructions to Form 990 define “volunteer” as “A person who serves the organization without compensation, for instance, a member of the organization’s governing body who serves the organization without compensation.” So I would have thought that the unpaid directors should be counted as volunteers.

  • Bill

    There’s some truly delicious numerology here. I’ve seen some pretty screwy 990s in my day, but this one takes the cake. Over $1 million in fundraising expenses to raise $250K in donations (plus $14M in loans). Overall, almost $30 million in loans outstanding, not counting the additional $5 million repaid (to Ackerman, we may presume). The CEO’s compensation consumed all of the funds coming in as donations (suck-ers!).

    Can’t wait to read Volume 3: Democracy Strikes Back (The 2012 Edition). How does the story end? Did AECorp default on its loans when it locked out its delegates and disappeared? Did the rich donors (err…loaners) forgive its debts to them? Or did Ackerman do the right thing and make a huge donation to enable AE to honor its debts? (Did I just write “Did Ackerman do the right thing?” Talk about a question that answers itself!)

    Onward…gotta make some calls to try to get a copy of that NYU report. Sounds delicious.

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