White House to Americans Elect: We've Got Our Eye on You
For an object lesson on how not to run a third-party movement, see Americans Elect.
It's an upstart political reform group that wants to create its own "balanced" ticket to run in next year's presidential elections. But first, Americans Elect has to get on the ballot in all fifty states. To that end, it is raising millions of dollars and recruiting volunteers in all 50 states to collect the requisite number of signatures to get its candidate on the ballot (for more details, read my story on the group). In June, it will hold an online primary where registered voters can go to the group's website to vote for a candidate who isn't beholden to Democratic or Republican interests.
But campaign finance reform groups like Democracy 21 and the Campaign Legal Center are sounding the alarm. Late last year, Americans Elect became a 501(c)(4) organization—the same classification as Crossroads GPS and other dark money outfits. Under tax law, such groups are not permitted to make political advocacy the majority of their activity. They also don't have to publicly disclose their donors, who have already contributed over $20 million to the group. Reformers have also taken issue with Americans Elect's shadowy "Candidate Certification Committee"—populated by a cadre of former politicians, political operatives, and wealthy financiers. That body, critics say, could potentially overrule whatever ballot line voters create in the online nominating convention next June. But the group insists that the committee is designed only to ensure the ticket is sufficiently balanced.
So the notion that the group wants to open up the electoral process without opening up its own internal processes is kind of hilarious. The White House seems to think so too, but acknowledges the potential problems it could present, the National Journal reports: