On October 5th, Americans Elect filed Form 5 (Report of Independent Expenditures Made and Contributions Received) with the Federal Election Commission, bringing into sharp focus the new face of the old scam which once claimed to be a non-partisan (sic) online presidential nominating convention. We have more than once panned Americans Elect as "Ackerman Selects" on this blog, in honor of its founder and sugar-daddy, ethically-challenged Wall Street tycoon Peter Ackerman. While much has changed since AECorp summarily shut down its online nomination process and locked out its 'delegates' on May 17th of this year, one thing remains the same: Peter Ackerman still elects to throw the 2012 election in whatever direction he damn well wants to. But joining him now in this quixotic and vaguely sociopathic quest is an even more notable...and perhaps surprising...Wall Street tycoon, New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg. A synopsis of the events behind this latest twist in Americans Elect's Never-Ending Story follows below.
According to its October 5th FEC filing Ackerman, joined by hizzoner Bloomberg and fellow tycoon John Burbank (founder of Passport Capital), donated a total of $1.75 million to Americans Elect between August 8th and October 4th of this year (respectively $500K, $500K, and $750K). This bankroll was immediately turned around to survey, plan, and execute a massive partisan advertising campaign in support of the Senate bid of Maine's ex-governor, Angus King (independent), with expenses including:
- $150,000 to notorious hired-gun pollster (and long-time AECorp insider) Douglas Schoen for "polling and research"
- $50,000 to Schoen for "production planning/strategy"
- $120,470 to SKD Knickerbocker LLC for "ad production" and "media consulting"
- $412,250 to Maine television stations WABI, WAGM - CBS, WAGM - FOX, WCSH, WFVX, WGME, WLBZ, WMTW, WPFO, and WVII for "television advertising - media placement"
The beneficiary of this largesse, Senate candidate Angus King, back in June of this year bemoaned the influence of outside money on Maine's election: "This money is distorting our politics and it is largely anonymous. Sen. John McCain referred to the way it all works as, ‘identity laundering’ — where you can’t really tell who is making these enormous contributions to people’s campaigns,” King said. “I think it is also this flow of money that has contributed to the public cynicism and distrust of government."
However, since this tsunami of outside cash crashed over his Republican opponent's head last week, the King campaign has come to see things differently. "We did not know about this ad nor did we ask for it," King's spokeswoman, Crystal Canney, said in a written statement. "[The King campaign] will not unilaterally disarm. The time has passed when this money could have been kept out of Maine."
So how does Americans Elect rationalize its sudden metamorphosis from a "grassroots" organization intended to empower independent voters, into yet another entitled cabal of wealthy donors seeking to steer elections in whatever direction they personally desire? It doesn't even try. Americans Elect's hired mouthpiece, attorney Daniel Winslow (yet another original AECorp insider) told the Boston Globe: “As Maine goes, so goes the country. The country and Mainers are hungry for problem-solving, independent candidates running for important offices. “If [AECorp's King's Gambit] is successful, Americans Elect will participate in the upcoming election cycle to develop 3, 5, or 10 more Angus Kings representing an independent caucus to bridge the divide between the partisan extremes, to turn the tide of gridlock in Washington, and to put us onto a course of government the American people want and deserve.”
The problem with AECorp's old strategy was that while "the country [is] hungry for problem-solving independent candidates," it nonetheless proved to be the case that the country -- as represented by Americans Elect's delegates in its online nominating convention -- proved not to be hungry for precisely those candidates which Pete Ackerman and his henchmen personally favored. So it was necessary to destroy the village (the old AECorp) to save it. AE now retreats back to the time-tested cynical strategy of simply enabling a few ultra-rich individuals to throw wads of money around influencing elections, thus handily side-stepping the problem of the inherent untidiness of actual democracy.
We here at AE Transparency have been in the business of predicting AECorp's future ever since its appearance on the national stage, with (we blush to admit) uncanny accuracy. Here's our prediction for the rest of AE's future. The Corporation will indeed, as Winslow has warned us, throw tens or even hundreds of millions of dollars in the next election cycle into promoting the candidacies of its hand-picked favorite 'independents', with increasingly visible participation by Mike Bloomberg. This cycle's King's Gambit is merely a test-drive. Then, with this coterie of nominally independent (but financially dependent) sycophants in its pocket, doing its bidding (for how else could they be re-elected?) and aping its words, AECorp will go after its long-sought brass ring: putting Bloomberg himself in the White House in 2016.
In short, Ackerman Selects has simply abandoned the short con, in favor of the long con.
If this is not a future for American democracy which appeals to you, we encourage you to look at the big picture and to vote AGAINST any candidate who permits him- or herself to be supported by Americans Elect (Angus King in Maine) or Mike Bloomberg (Massachusetts senate incumbent Scott Brown). Only by sending a clear message to politicians that Ackerman/Bloomberg's Americans Elect is radioactive can we effectively oppose its further gaming of the democratic process. Candidates who are merely innocent bystanders and who might otherwise suffer collateral damage from Americans Elect's interference can easily defend and redeem themselves, and their campaigns, by simply coming out and loudly proclaiming their unequivocal opposition to Americans Elect's schemes. We eagerly await such messages from candidates Angus King and Scott Brown.
Vote FOR democracy. Vote AGAINST Americans Elect.