Back in August 2012, the privatized-presidential-election corporation Americans Elect sent out a Mission Report to its large donors, its board of directors, its staff and its advisors. Americans Elect failed to share that report with its own delegates or the American public. Fortunately, Americans Elect advisor David King agreed to slip me his personal copy, and I’ve finished scanning it in. You can read the entire 74-page Americans Elect Mission Report here.
As I read through and scan in a paper copy of the Americans Elect Mission Report, I’m tickled by the story Americans Elect is telling about itself, tickled by the inability of Americans Elect staffers to tell a story straight. Even in a document sent only to Americans Elect insiders and boosters, the privatized-presidential-election corporation repeats the
disingenuous false claims it had trumpeted this past spring.
What Americans Elect Claims About its Platform of Questions
Take Elliot Ackerman and Brian Findlay’s claim on page 26:
"A central idea of Americans Elect was that there would be no proscribed platform of issues, allowing the delegates to shape the debate. By submitting more than 26,000 questions online, delegates participated in the development of 15 key questions that all candidates were required to answer in order to seek the AE nomination. The Platform of Questions did not define how candidates must stand on the issues, but it did define what issues the candidates must address to compete for the nomination."
On page 27, Americans Elect lists its Platform of Questions, a list which you can see is almost identical to the Platform of Questions the corporation rolled out in January 2012. The January 2012 Platform of Questions has 15 questions; the August 2012 Platform of Questions contains 14 questions lifted verbatim from the January 2012 Platform, and leaves one question from the January Platform of Questions behind (more on that later).
Here’s a copy of page 27 for you to review. Notice that in the header Americans Elect repeats its claim that these are the questions developed by delegates:
And here at its special awards page, Americans Elect is shown as declaring that the Platform of Questions was what the delegates preferred…
What Americans Elect Really Did with Delegate Preferences to Get Its Platform of Questions
How accurate are Americans Elect’s claims about following the will of its delegates in creating the Platform of Questions? Not accurate at all.
The thing is that back in January, I made sure to keep track of the actual vote tallies at “Shape the Debate” — the process Americans Elect set up for delegates to suggest and vote on options for inclusion in the Platform of Questions. What did I find?
Americans Elect ignored many of the questions getting the most votes.
- The 3rd-place question in the delegate vote count read, “Corporations are currently given same rights as people. Do you agree or disagree with this legal practice, and how would your administration’s policies reflect that perspective?” Despite its high ranking, this question was left off the Platform of 15 Questions by Americans Elect.
- The 6th-place question in the delegate count read, “In the wake of the Citizens United decision by the United States Supreme Court, many people believe that money has too much influence in political campaigns. Do you agree? If so, how might we reform current election laws to change this?” Despite its high ranking, this question was left off the Platform of 15 Questions by Americans Elect.
- The 7th-place question in the delegate count read, “Technology is advancing at an accelerating rate, but so much of our system runs on centuries-old bureaucratic processes. How would you promote the utilization of technology to rid government of inefficiency and to become more effective?”Despite its high ranking, this question was left off the Platform of 15 Questions by Americans Elect.
- The 8th-place question in the delegate count read, “How do you plan to deal with nations who wish to acquire nuclear weapons (e.g., Iran and North Korea)?” Despite its high ranking, this question was left off the Platform of 15 Questions by Americans Elect.
- The 9th-place question in the delegate count read, “Since the President’s appointment has a two-term limit, would you support term limits on all elected offices (such as Senators, Congresspeople, and Governors)?” Despite its high ranking, this question was left off the Platform of 15 Questions by Americans Elect.
- The 10th-place question in the delegate count read, “Would you support replacing the electoral college with a national popular vote?” Despite its high ranking, this question was left off the Platform of 15 Questions by Americans Elect.
- The 14th-place question in the delegate count read, “What reforms will you take to ensure that corporations and unions cannot ‘buy’ seats in Congress and other positions, both legislative and executive?” Despite its high ranking, this question was left off the Platform of 15 Questions by Americans Elect.
On top of that, in the place of the actual top questions as voted on by delegates, Americans Elect substituted a number of questions in its Platform of 15 Questions that weren’t anywhere in the top 25 of the vote count.
- Americans Elect included the question “How do you propose we reduce the national debt, and how much should the national debt be considered in economic recovery plans?” in its Platform of 15 Questions even though there was no question even like that question among the top 25 in the delegate vote. As a matter of fact, the highest-rated question on the national debt in the delegate vote was far back, in 72nd place. There were 10 other questions about the economy alone that ranked higher in the delegate vote.
- Americans Elect included two questions on health care — “What do you think is driving the rapid growth of health care costs, and how would you slow it down? Would you support putting some kind of cap on what the government spends on Medicare?” and “Should the government require that all citizens have healthcare insurance? If so, what is your thought about a premium support model similar to the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program?” — even though there were no questions even like these among the top 25 in the delegate vote.
- Americans Elect included two questions on education — “Why do you think college costs keep rising? Are students getting their money’s worth, and what would you do to slow down cost growth?” and “What would you do to improve workforce development and job training opportunities for U.S. workers?” — even though there were no questions even like these among the top 25 in the delegate vote.
- Americans Elect inserted this question as one of the 15 in its Platform of Questions — “In addition to renewable fuels, do you believe natural gas and nuclear energy should play a larger role in America’s energy mix?” — even though there was no question even like that question among the top 25 in the delegate vote.
- Americans Elect inserted this question as one of the 15 in its Platform of Questions — “Is America’s enormous trade deficit with China a problem? How would you boost U.S. exports and encourage China and other countries to buy more from us?” — even though there was no question even like that question among the top 25 in the delegate vote.
And when Americans Elect whittled its Platform of Questions down from 15 in January to 14 in the August Mission Report, here’s the one it cut:
"Is U.S. energy independence a feasible goal and, if so, how would you achieve it? How would you reduce our reliance on foreign oil?"
You know what’s coming by now, don’t you? That’s right — the question Americans Elect axed was one of the few questions in the Platform of Questions that actually ranked among the top 20 in the delegate vote.
Even after its failure, Americans Elect can’t stop telling fibs about itself.
Americans Elect made a long post-failure Mission Report available to its large donors, its Board of Directors and its Board of Advisors, but it didn’t make the report available to the public, to small donors, or to its rank-and-file delegate membership, the ones that it said were its “true boss.”
Fortunately, Board of Advisors member David King kindly shared a paper copy with me, and I’m uploading it as quickly as a busy schedule and a slow scanner permit. You can read first 27 pages of the Americans Elect Mission Report here.
August 8: Americans Elect Starts Collecting $$ for Angus King. August 20: Americans Elect Says it Supports No CandidateNovember 21st, 2012 | Posted by in Alternative Parties | Americans Elect | Election 2012 | Ethics | Mysteries | Politics - (6 Comments)
Take a look at pages 5 and 6 of this excerpt of the Americans Elect Mission Report. As you can see from that excerpt, the report features a letter signed by Peter Ackerman and dated August 20. August 20 is a full 12 days after August 8, the day an FEC report shows Ackerman gave $250,000 to Americans Elect for the purpose of spending money “independently” to promote Angus King’s bid for the U.S. Senate.
At the bottom of each of the pages of the report appear the words “Americans Elect is not affiliated with and does not support or oppose any candidate or candidate’s committee.”
But at the top of page 9 of the Americans Elect Mission Report, Americans Elect Chairman Peter Ackerman finishes his letter by writing:
"An external force must precipitate change. Angus King, the former two-term independent governor of Maine, who is now running for the Senate to succeed Olympia Snowe, offers some hope."
This was written 12 days after Americans Elect Chairman Peter Ackerman donated $250,000 to Americans Elect to be spent promoting the Senate candidate of Angus King — Federal Election Commission records tell us so.
Before Americans Elect published a Mission Report declaring that it “does not support any candidate,” it had already started collecting money to spend in support of candidate Angus King.
Ed. note, 4:35 pm: This article originally also noted the continued identification of Angus King campaign Chair Eliot Cutler as an Americans Elect member of the Board of Directors in the August 2012 Mission Report, published after Americans Elect Peter Ackerman provided the first $250,000 of contribution money for pro-King spending. See the comments for Eliot Cutler's response, which is backed by an affidavit. Upon emergence of the affidavit, that portion of the article is retracted.
Peter Ackerman's contribution of $250,000 to Americans Elect to be spent supporting Angus King's Senate candidacy, before publishing a Mission Report declaring that Americans Elect supports no candidate, remains unexplained.
Yesterday, I promised that I’d start making public what the Americans Elect corporation has not made public: its August 2012 Mission Report. Appreciation goes to Americans Elect Board of Advisors member and Harvard Professor David King for sending me a paper copy when asked. It’ll take me a while to scan the whole report in, but eventually I hope to share the whole report with you.
This morning, let’s look at the first 9 pages of the Americans Elect Mission Report. What do you read here? What’s interesting? What’s telling? Post a comment here with your observations, and feel free to download the pdf file and post it to your own website.
At the end of September 2012, reports referring to an “Americans Elect Mission Report” began to appear. Americans Elect has not made this report public on its website, and there appears to be no other place on the internet where this Mission Report is made publicly available.
However, a reference to the Mission Report appears in the syllabus to Professor David King’s syllabus for the Political Parties in Theory and Practice course he is teaching at Harvard University this fall. I wrote to Professor King, a member of the Board of Advisors of Americans Elect, asking him if he might be willing to share a copy of the report, and he graciously agreed. I received a copy of the long document yesterday, and will be scanning it in over the next few days so that the public can read what Americans Elect insiders have known for some time.
A sneak peak today at the Americans Elect Mission Report reveals the corporation’s plans. By December 31, 2012, Americans Elect apparently plans to dissolve itself out of existence:
“On June 26, 2012, the Organization’s Board of Directors approved a plan of dissolution, which they expect to complete by December 31, 2012. Management’s plans concerning these matters are also discussed in Note 1 to the financial statements.”
“On June 26, 2012, Americans Elect’s Board of Directors approved a plan of dissolution. Americans Elect expects to complete the dissolution of the organization by the end of 2012. Americans Elect’ assets, including its intellectual property and brand, will be sold, transferred and/or distributed as approved by the Board. Individuals or organizations who obtain such assets may use those assets to further and/or expand Americans Elect’s original mission.”
Other than signaling the end of the Americans Elect corporation, at least under its current ownership, why would this possibly matter to you?
It might matter to you if you signed up as a delegate to Americans and, oh, answered hundreds questions about yourself, plus your “date of birth; residential address including street, apartment number if applicable, city or town, state and zip code that matches the public voter registration address; and such additional publicly available information to verify status.”
We and our trusted partners acting on our behalf may use the information we collect from and about you to… send you communications, including information about products, services, and events (offered by us and others) that we think might interest you….
In addition to sharing your personal information with third parties who provide services to us, we may share your information:
* with third parties responsible for checking your information against voter registration databases
* as required by law and when we believe in good faith that disclosure is necessary to protect our rights or those of third parties, protect your safety or the safety of others, investigate fraud, or comply with a court order or other legal process
* in connection with a corporate change including a merger, acquisition or sale of assets.
That last bit? It’s apparently happening by the end of next month.