Saturday, December 10, 2011

The Elitists Behind the Internet-Based Effort to Shake Up Presidential Politics

Earlier this week in a post titled, Have the Rothschilds Placed Their Presidential Bet?, I reported that Lynn Forester de Rothschild was out with a column hinting at a potential victory for a third-party candidate. In her column, she wrote:
A not-for-profit organization, called Americans Elect is establishing ballot access in all 50 states for the candidates for president and vice president in 2012 who will be nominated directly by the people in an online nominating process. The sophisticated website of Americans Elect allows registered voters a revolutionary new way to nominate a bipartisan ticket to occupy the White House. To date, the website has over 300,000 delegates, more than 50 times the number that participate in both the Democratic and Republican Party conventions (in full disclosure, I sit on the Leadership Board for Americans Elect).
Salon's Justin Elliott has dug deeper into Americans Elect to see who else might be involved in Americans Elect besides a Rothschild. He found it is a bunch of elitists, Northeeast Corridor riders. Elliott writes:
There’s an increasing amount of buzz around Americans Elect, a peculiar Internet-based effort to shake up presidential politics. But dig a bit beneath the surface and there’s reason to be deeply skeptical of the endeavor.

The basic pitch of Americans Elect goes like this: We’ll go through the expensive and time-consuming process of getting ballot access in all 50 states. Then we’ll hold an online convention in June in which any registered voter can participate. Participants will nominate a presidential ticket including one Democrat and one Republican who will then enter the general election fray.

Here’s what the group is not so upfront about: It’s fueled by millions of dollars of secret money, there is a group of wealthy, well-connected board members who have control over Americans Elect’s nominating process, and the group has myriad links to Wall Street...

The group is hoping to raise $30 million for its effort. It has already raised an impressive $22 million as of last month. So where is all that money coming from? Americans Elect won’t say. In fact, the group changed how it is organized under the tax code last year in order to shield the identity of donors. It is now a 501(c)(4) “social welfare” group whose contributors are not reported publicly.

What we do know about the donors, largely through news reports citing anonymous sources, suggests they are a handful of super-rich Americans who made fortunes in the finance industry...

Americans Elect officials often tout their “revolutionary” online nominating convention, which will be open to any registered voter. But there’s a big catch. Any ticket picked by participants will have to be approved by a Candidate Certification Committee, according to the group’s bylaws.

Among other things this committee will need to certify a “balanced ticket obligation” – that the ticket consists of persons who are “responsive to the vast majority of citizens while remaining independent of special interests and the partisan interests of either major political party,” according to the current draft of Americans Elect rules. Making these sorts of assessments is, of course, purely subjective.

And who appoints the members of the Candidate Certification Committee? The board members of Americans Elect.

So who is on the Americans Elect board, and where is the money coming from?

Thomas Friedman reported over the summer that the group is “financed with some serious hedge-fund money,” which has paid for, among other things, prime office space in New York and Washington. A spokeswoman for the group did not respond to a request for comment about Friedman’s report.

At one point over the summer, the group was claiming that none of its funding comes from “special interests” – a difficult-to-define term that, if it has any meaning at all, would have to include the hedge fund industry.

We do know that Peter Ackerman, chairman of the board of Americans Elect, has given over a million dollars to the group. A wealthy investment banker, he has been a donor to both President Obama and Republicans over the years. He was also on the board of the [Koch funded] CATO Institute’s Social Security Choice project, which advocated for a Bush-style scheme to dismantle and privatize social security.

According to the Guardian, other funders include Melvin Andrews of Lakeside Capital Partners and Kirk Rostron of an investment firm called the Mt. Vernon Group. Rostron formerly worked as a director at Merrill Lynch’s hedge fund group. Another reported funder is Jim Holbrook, chairman of the Promotion Marketing Association, the trade association for the marketing industry.

And the list of political operatives who have signed on to the effort – including former McCain aide Mark McKinnon, Will Marshall of the Progressive Policy Institute, former New Jersey governor Christine Todd Whitman, and Bloomberg pollster Douglas Schoen – suggest the group will promote a kind of pro-establishment, “why can’t we just all get along by agreeing to dismantle Social Security”-style centrism.
Bottom line, this is a clever operation by the Northeast Corridor riders to co-opt the up and coming political internet movement. It's not about change, it's about those who want change being directed right into the Establishment hands who don't want chnage.


  1. Ron Paul is by far the most tracked candidate on Americans Elect. How are they going to get around this?

  2. Is that turd-party candidate going to be Lloyd Blankfein?

  3. Hey Wenzel, I don't know if you aware or not, but they gave you a compliment over at the Daily Bell
    related to your coverage on this.
    Scroll down to the bottom, last paragraph before "Conclusion".

  4. @ anon 1:22

    The Candidate Certification Committee and the board members of Americans Elect have the final say in a highly subjective process of candidate approval.

  5. This blog is awesome, thanks RW.