Americans Elect is a political party—funded largely by hedge fund managers and Wall Street millionaires—that wants to put a presidential candidate on the November ballot in all 50 states.
The group has just announced that it has potentially turned in enough signatures to the Secretary of State’s office to make it on the Oregon ballot.
We’ve previously written extensively about Americans Elect, but here are the top five reasons why Oregonians should be alarmed about their entry into the state.
1. Americans Elect is refusing to identify their political funders. Despite behaving exactly like a political party, Americans Elect refuses to disclose the sources of its political donations. Enough information, however, has leaked out to make it clear that the vast majority of Americans Elect’s funding (tens of millions of dollars worth) has come from a small handful of Wall Street millionaires.
Here’s what AE’s Northwest Regional Director Peter Arno told OPB about their funders: “I don’t blame them for wanting to necessarily not be public and endure perhaps some criticism that they may have to go through for being lenders.”
Have the millionaire funders not seen Americans Elect’s marketing materials? If the group is the greatest thing to happen to democracy since voting, why are they ashamed to be associated with it?
The group claims they don’t need to reveal their funding because they’re a nonprofit, but they aren’t behaving as a nonprofit—they’re behaving as a political party. In fact, the signatures they just filed in Oregon are to become a political party.
2. All new donations are going to pay back millionaire funders. A major component of Americans Elect’s multi-million dollar marketing blitz has been a fund-raising pitch to new members.
But on February 20, the Americans Elect Board of Directors voted unanimously to start repaying any donor who originally gave more than $10,000 to the group. That means that every dime AE raises from its supporters is now going not to advance the mission of the party, but to pay back millionaires.
The very next day, Americans Elect sent out an email to its members, calling for 5,000 new donors by Super Tuesday. “Your donation will support our field team, which is currently spread out across 19 states collecting signatures to put your choice on the ballot nationwide,” read the email from Elliot Ackerman, the son of AE’s millionaire founder. “We’re all counting on them. And they’re all counting on us.
So please, give what you can today.”
The only people “counting on” new donations are a few Wall Street millionaires who want their money back.
3. Despite all the marketing, Americans Elect members have virtually zero power to choose their candidates. A powerful “Candidate Certification Committee,” handpicked by the Board of Directors (who can be fired at any time for any reason) makes all decisions about who is qualified to be an Americans Elect candidate. Members can vote to overturn their decision—but they can only overturn Committee decisions that weren’t unanimous.
Even worse, overturning such a decision requires a majority of ALL registered members to vote for it. Because most of the people who sign up for Americans Elect won’t ever return to the site, getting a majority to even turnout to vote is probably impossible.
4. The premise of Americans Elect is deeply flawed. The basic premise of Americans Elect is that both sides of the political aisle are to blame for extreme partisanship and gridlock in government. In what is known as a “false equivalency,” AE blames Democrats and Republicans alike for political extremism.
But both sides are clearly not to blame. As American Prospect editor Harold Meyerson wrote recently in the L.A. Times:
But the myth exists that the Democrats are as radical as the Republicans, despite data collected by political scientists Paul Pierson and Jacob Hacker showing that congressional Republicans have galloped much further right in recent decades than congressional Democrats have to the left. Nonetheless, some very wealthy Americans, declaring themselves the excluded center, have ponied up for a new proto-party for the mythically missing center. It’s called Americans Elect.
Republican candidates have run far to the right, and Democratic candidates have run toward the center. Republicans are taking political hostages and openly advocate for the destruction of government. Whatever problems Washington DC has, both sides are clearly not equally to blame. By claiming otherwise, Americans Elect is only setting up a false argument that shifts the political conversation toward a pro-corporate agenda.
5. Americans Elect is giving corporate special interests an even bigger megaphone. Like other similar groups (No Labels, America Speaks), Americans Elect is a platform for Wall Street executives to increase their control over American politics.
Here’s one thing that most Americans agree on: Corporate special interests have too much influence in the political system. Americans Elect is only making that problem worse, not better.