Saturday, October 6, 2012

Americans Elect: Still Crazy After All These Years

Perhaps you thought, as we did, too, that with the failure of Americans Elect's online primary earlier this year (chronicled throughout this blog's previous posts) that AECorp was finally consigned to a tawdry little footnote in American politics...but no. Apparently AECorp's founder, Peter Ackerman, meant what he said when he took down AE's $40 million web site and replaced it with a single page ominously warning us "See You in 2013!" Except it turns out that Pete couldn't wait even that long to meddle once more in the democratic process in a morally (and legally) questionable manner.

As always, Irregular Times' cub reporter, Jim Cook, broke the story yesterday: television ads are now appearing in Maine over the Americans Elect name, explicitly promoting the Senate campaign of Maine's ex-governor, independent Angus King. Subsequently Politico revealed that this ad buy, totaling $1.75 million, was funded by six-figure donations from AECorp's founder (and sole remaining official?) Pete Ackerman, New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg (Ackerman's clubhouse chum and unindicted co-conspirator in waiting), and fellow Titan of Finance John Burbank (founder of Passport Capital).

The fly in the ointment is that such explicit political advertising in support of a named candidate is in direct contradiction of AECorp's long-prized tax exempt status as a 501(c)(4) "civic welfare" organization. With the airing of this ad, Americans Elect has transformed itself into a political action committee (PAC). There's just one teensy tiny problem: AECorp appears to have forgotten to register itself as a PAC with the Federal Election Commission first.


In response to this eyebrow-raising activity, yesterday the Republican Party of Maine filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission, accusing Americans Elect Corporation of "illegal coordinated spending practices." While we are not election law experts, we find the GOP's argument compelling: AECorp certainly appears to now be functioning as an illegal unregistered PAC, in flagrant violation of Federal law. This leaves us wondering whether AECorp is still attempting to maintain 501(c)(4) tax- (and scrutiny-) exempt status, as well? Have some more cake, Pete (and eat it too)?

Man, you just can't make this stuff up.

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