AE Transparency has uncovered factual discrepancies between official Americans Elect (AE) documents which raise new questions in the growing controversy surrounding the organization's involvement in the the U.S. Senate campaign of Maine's ex-governor, independent Angus King.
King's campaign became entangled in controversy last week with the appearance of $1.75 million worth of advertising on Maine television promoting his senate bid, produced and paid for by the tax-exempt "social welfare" organization, Americans Elect. The ads prompted Maine's Republican Party to file a complaint with the Federal Election Commission, arguing that they reflected "illegal coordinated spending practices" between the King campaign and Americans Elect, because Eliot Cutler, King's campaign chairman, was a member of Americans Elect's board of directors.
Last Friday, Americans Elect released a copy of Cutler's letter of resignation from Americans Elect's board, dated and "effective the close of business on June 26, 2012". But an Americans Elect filing submitted to and posted on the web site of South Dakota's Secretary of State includes an AE board resolution, executed June 23/24 2012, which states in part "the undersigned, being all of the members of the Board of Directors of Americans Elect," and does not include the name or signature of Eliot Cutler among those signatories.
In short, Cutler's resignation letter declares that he was a member of AE's board through June 26th, 2012, whereas AE's South Dakota filing declares that he was not. At least one of these two statements must therefore be false.
A three-day discrepancy in the date of Cutler's resignation from Americans Elect's board does not, in itself, contradict AE spokesperson Ileana Wachtel's claim that "Eliot Cutler...resigned...before any expenditure was made or before any funds were raised [in support of King's campaign]." But it is yet another in a growing list of inconsistencies in AE's story, casting more doubt on the veracity of its claimed timeline of events. As recently as October 5th of this year AE's one-page web site listed Cutler as a member of its board of directors (the page was modified on October 6th to declare Cutler a "former" member). Over the past two weeks AE has therefore asserted no fewer than three different dates as of which Cutler no longer served on its board: June 23, June 26, and October 5, 2012. Which -- if any -- of these assertions is true will be a central issue in determining the merit of the complaint now before the Federal Election Commission charging Angus King and Americans Elect with illegal coordinated spending practices.
Throughout its brief troubled life, Americans Elect has established a pattern of behavior (documented throughout this blog) of issuing statements which, most generously, might be declared to be half-truths, and in the extreme are provably false -- such as the assertion in its 2010 IRS Form 990 filing that "Americans Elect does not and will not support or oppose any candidate or candidate committee" [emphasis added]. We believe that this pattern of behavior makes it unwise to rely upon the truth of any statement made by Americans Elect which has not been verified by extensive forensic analysis.
We call upon Americans Elect's founder and chairman, Peter Ackerman, to submit Cutler's alleged resignation letter to legal authorities for independent laboratory analysis to determine its actual creation date.