Never mind that Buddy Roemer has tried on as many political parties as Newt Gingrich has wives. What really counts in a presidential candidate isn’t party affiliation, but rather what he or she stands for. Because if you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything.
Or...maybe not. If Gov. Roemer’s current Americans Elect dating game demonstrates anything at all, it is that one can, in fact, stand for something and still fall for anything.
In his own words (or, at least, his campaign web site’s) Roemer is “committed to fighting the corrupting influences in Wall Street and Washington,” stands firm against “billionaires buying an election,” stands up against the “special interests” and “the corrupting influence of money in politics.”
So what do you do if you’re a hard-scrabble corruption-fighting reformer whom the other less ethical candidates and their billionaire backers have (at least in your view) systematically squeezed out of the debate, and out of the running? Why, you find yourself the very last billionaire in America who doesn’t yet have a date for the prom, and you jump into bed with him. You declare your candidacy with Peter Ackerman’s pet ‘party’, Americans Elect Corporation.
Let’s briefly review. Americans Elect is indeed a corporation, not a party, incorporated in Washington, D.C. It is founded, owned, led (with an iron fist) and bankrolled by billionaire Peter Ackerman, whose vast fortune derives in part from his service as a leader at the now defunct Wall Street investment firm of Drexel Burnham Lambert, where he served as a lieutenant to convicted felon Michael Milken during the famed 1980s ‘junk bond’ scandal which nearly destroyed the entire American savings and loan industry.
OK, so Buddy’s in bed with a billionaire who has an unsavory past. So what? It’s not too much to hope that the billionaire had his Road To Damascus moment and is now a civic-minded corruption-fighter in his own right, is it?
Yes, it is. But don’t take our word for it. Ask the Center for Investigative Reporting’s CaliforniaWatch, which has mapped in exquisite detail Ackerman’s more recent deviations from the path of righteousness, including:
· A $150 million personal tax shelter rejected by the United States Tax Court in 2005.
· A “questionable, self-serving” $2.6 million tax deduction in 2009 (also rejected).
· Ackerman’s unsuccessful 2003 bid to sue the California Franchise Tax Board to recover $5 million in state taxes.
· Ackerman’s attorney’s 2005 effort to introduce a bill which would change California tax law, which a Senate Revenue and Taxation Committee analysis determined “appeared to solely benefit Ackerman, at a cost of $5 million to the state.”
Someone should tell Buddy about the unseemly reputation of his new best friend, quick, before it tarnishes Roemer himself! But alas, someone has; in fact, lots of someones have. He just doesn’t seem to care.
For example, in a recent online exchange in which we ourselves asked Roemer, on Facebook, about the questionable characters he has cast his lot with at Americans Elect, Buddy replied:
“I don't agree with your baseless concerns. My staff and I have met with AE's chairman [Peter Ackerman], executive leadership and board of directors numerous times and I can tell you their heart is in the right place. Peter Ackerman is a good man and I do not buy into the rumors. Their board is made up of well-respected CEOs, former Governors and Senators and Congressmen who are fed up with the partisan gridlock and corruption. These are decent people and some of them I call friends.”
Interesting, isn’t it, how the billionaire puppet-master who supports and enables your candidacy is so much better a person than are all those billionaire puppet-masters who won’t give you the time of day? Documented transgressions, matters of public record, recorded history, all become mere “rumors”, which Buddy feels free to “not buy into,” somewhat reminiscent of a Holocaust denier.
Interesting, too, how once you’ve taken that first tiny step which inexorably leads to sleeping with the enemy, the truth becomes, shall we say, fungible. Buddy’s assertion that Americans Elect’s board is made up of “well-respected CEOs” is simply wrong. There is one CEO on AECorp’s board of directors – the CEO of Americans Elect itself (who hardly counts). Ditto his assertion that the board is likewise composed of “Senators and Congressmen.” There are no senators, no congresspersons, past or present, on AECorp’s board of directors, and there never have been.
Not to put too fine a point on it, but Buddy is just making this shit up. He’s in denial. He wants to believe – or rather, he needs to seem to believe – that Americans Elect is led by fine, respected, civic-minded public servants, and so he believes.
And once you start down that slippery slope, it never ends. Bad becomes good, wrong becomes right, and even a corruption-fighter can become...well...corrupted.
On March 28th at 1:44 PM, Roemer hit a new low in his slick slide to Hell when he sent from his personal Twitter account the following tweet:
“Support @BuddyRoemer on @AmericansElect, tells us why you did it by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org & receive a free piece of swag”
The only way to ‘support’ a candidate on Americans Elect’s web site right now is to vote for him in the ongoing first-round ballot, so what Buddy appears to be offering here is swag for votes. That, we suggest, is called vote-buying, one of the most heinous forms of electioneering, and a Federal crime as well as a crime in each of the fifty states. An interesting approach to battling corruption, to say the least. When we called him on this on his Facebook page was he contrite? Did he reflect upon his sins and ask for a do-over? Did he at least have the decency to blame it on an unnamed overeager intern?
Nope. What Buddy offered in reply was “Give me a friggin break and get over it!” Apparently we hit a nerve.
Embracing a billionaire puppet-master. Making up fantasy-friends. Offering swag for votes. When a once-good man climbs into bed with the Bad Guys, anything can (and will) happen next.
Our gripe isn’t with Buddy. We once actually kind-of respected him. Our gripe is with Americans Elect Corporation, and what it does, so actively and with such apparent zest, to cheapen and degrade democracy, as witnessed by the way it has cheapened and degraded Gov. Roemer. And all that embarrassment for much less than a handful of silver, as Roemer's Americans Elect campaign is going nowhere fast.
Save Buddy Roemer's soul. Reform Americans Elect before it’s too late by signing our reform petition: http://www.change.org/petitions/americans-elect-make-americans-elect-a-model-of-the-reform-it-seeks