Americans Elect Corporation claims to seek to provide American voters with the first exclusively online political convention to select and nominate a centrist, non-partisan, third-party ticket for the 2012 Presidential election, and to win that ticket a place on all 50 states’ ballots.
Excited by the potential for what non-partisan, internet-enabled democracy might be able to do to repair America’s increasingly dysfunctional two-party political system, over 400,000 “members” have joined Americans Elect. A smaller (but not publicly known) number have further attained “delegate” status qualifying them to vote in the online primary later this summer.
Sadly, despite its purported goal of promoting democracy, the Americans Elect’s corporate organization is, itself, surprisingly (and discouragingly) undemocratic. The corporation’s Board of Directors, which possesses enormous power to determine the conduct and outcome of the online primary, is unelected. The Board’s members appointed themselves at the founding of the corporation, and new Board members are appointed only by existing Board members, without a vote of or even consultation with Americans Elect delegates.
The Board’s unelected, self-appointed status is particularly worrisome because it is an all-powerful body: the corporation’s Bylaws reserve for the Board “extraordinary power and authority to take or compel any action,” including arbitrarily disqualifying candidates whom the Board does not favor, and even including rejecting the primary-winning ticket and crowning a ticket of the Board’s own choice, instead.
Further insuring that the primary convention will go strictly in accordance with Board members’ wishes, members of the important Rules and Candidate Certification committees are appointed by the Board (not elected by the delegates) and “serve at the pleasure of the Board.”
Such inattention to democratic principles in its own governance might be less troubling if all Board members were independent-minded paragons of life-long moral rectitude…but that may not be uniformly the case. Americans Elect’s founder, multi-million dollar donor, and self-appointed Board chairman, Peter Ackerman, is widely alledged to have been convicted felon Michael Milken’s right-hand-man at Wall Street investment firm Drexel Burnham Lambert during its insider-trading and junk bond scandal. Four other members of the Board are in what appear to many to be positions of financial dependence upon Ackerman’s continuing goodwill, either as Americans Elect employees or otherwise, giving chairman Ackerman an apparent 5-4 majority control of the corporation’s Board. The enormous power of this self-appointed Board, rigidly controlled by Ackerman, has led some doubters to disparagingly refer to Americans Elect itself as “Ackerman Elects”.
According to information provided by Americans Elect corporation itself, a large fraction of the organization’s founding “Leadership” are current or former executives of Wall Street hedge fund, private equity, or wealth management firms, tending to cast further doubt on the corporation’s true intentions. Americans Elect refuses to identify its major donors, and has claimed 501(c)(4) status with the IRS, enabling it to accept unlimited donations while keeping its donors’ identities a secret.
We, this petition’s sponsors — Americans Elect delegates committed to advancing the organization’s avowed goal of promoting American democracy through the application of non-partisan internet technology — believe that all of these unresolved issues of undemocratic governance and lack of transparency are harming Americans Elect and impeding its mission. For the sake of its self-proclaimed noble goals we and other signers of this petition demand:
1. That the Americans Elect Board of Directors resign in favor of a Board to be elected by a democratic vote of the delegates.
2. That the current members of the Rules and Candidate Certification committees resign in favor of members elected by a democratic vote of the delegates.
3. That Americans Elect’s corporate Bylaws be amended (and ratified by a democratic vote of its delegates) to permit the above two changes, as well as to rescind the Board’s “extraordinary power and authority to take or compel any action.”
4. That Americans Elect promptly reveal the names of all donors of $10,000 or more, and the amounts they have lent or donated.
And, further, that all four of these actions be completed before an online primary convention is conducted.
You are NOT required to be a member or a delegate of Americans Elect to sign this petition; all are welcome!