The ad campaign in Maine represents a new mission for Americans Elect, which formed initially to advance a third-party candidate in the presidential race. That effort fell apart in May, and the group has reconstituted itself to focus on electing independent candidates, Winslow said. In this cycle, King is the only candidate it is supporting.
“If he is successful, Americans Elect will participate in the upcoming election cycle to develop 3, 5, or 10 more Angus Kings representing an independent caucus to bridge the divide between the partisan extremes, to turn the tide of gridlock in Washington, and to put us onto a course of government the American people want and deserve,” Winslow said. In addition to serving as a lawyer for the group, Winslow is a Republican member of the Massachusetts House from Norfolk.
You may recall that Americans Elect was a 501(c)(4) registered corporation that also registered itself as a political party in the fifty American states in 2012. After signing up thousands of everyday people and promising to let them have the determining say in selecting a candidate for the presidency, Americans Elect abandoned this plan. Instead, without any deliberation or even input from its members, Americans Elect corporate leaders abruptly funnelled money from two billionaires and a hedge fund manager into “independent expenditures” promoting the election of Senator Angus King of Maine.
The 2014 election cycle is here. Are Americans Elect corporate leaders following through on the plan for “the upcoming election cycle to develp 3, 5, or 10 more Angus Kings”?
1. Mark McKinnon, a member of George W. Bush’s political circle who not only joined a leadership board at Americans Elect but also promoted it actively in the media. In the founding documents of the organization, McKinnon’s Texas operations are listed as the address of the Mayday PAC.
2. Lawrence Lessig, also on a leadership board at Americans Electleadership board at Americans Elect and also an active promoter of the Americans Elect corporation in the media.
3. Kahlil Byrd, named variously as the Director, Treasurer, Secretary, Chief Operating Officer, Custodian of Records, Consultant and Political Party Coordinator of Americans Elect and, again, an active promoter of the Americans Elect corporation in the media.
Two of these three (McKinnon and Byrd) are Republicans. The third, Lessig, is neither a Republican nor a Democrat.
Newsweek shares the plan of the Mayday PAC in the 2014 elections:
“The goal, according to Lessig, is to raise a total of $12 million by the 2014 midterm elections. Several Silicon Valley billionaires have lined up to match all donations to the Super PAC. That money, Lessig hopes, will be used to elect five candidates as a sort of proof of concept.”
This sounds very much like the operation Americans Elect’s Dan Winslow promised in 2012, and it wouldn’t be the first time that Americans Elect leaders adopted new corporate names to rebrand themselves; Americans Elect used to be called the Unity12 Task Force, and before that was called Unity08.
Through its leadership, the Mayday PAC can be traced clearly back to Americans Elect. Like Americans Elect, the Mayday PAC is making some big promises. Like Americans Elect, the Mayday PAC is using populist rhetoric but is in large substance backed by the money of billionaires. It is possible that the leaders of Americans Elect have realized the error of their ways, reformed, and rededicated themselves to actually helping repair the nation rather than hijack it on behalf of big-money interests. Given the track record of sneaky plans and broken promises at Americans Elect, however, it would be wise for Americans to take a close look at Mayday PAC before jumping aboard.
In the months to come, let’s draw our critical eyes over the Mayday PAC. What does the PAC say? How is the PAC run? Most importantly, what will this PAC do?