At least in the abstract, Americans Elect may have a pitch some voters find compelling. The outfit intends to spend heavily to gain a slot on the presidential ballot nationwide, then create a bipartisan ticket that voters would help choose online. The plan, however, is not without flaws.
Americans Elect hasn't had much luck finding willing candidates, but it is sitting on tens of millions of dollars and has collected the signatures needed to qualify for several states' ballots. Complicating matters, the group's organizers refuse to disclose where its money has come from, and has adopted a series of sketchy measures, including the ability to ignore the results of Americans Elect's online candidate referendum.
BuzzFeed reports today on another move that's likely to raise eyebrows.
A deep-pocketed group hoping to field a third candidate in November has quietly shifted its fundraising focus earlier this month to serve a curious goal, a spokeswoman has acknowledged to BuzzFeed: All money raised by Americans Elect will, for the forseeable future, be given to the millionaires who created it. [...]
Americans Elect, whose leaders have said they expect to spend $40 million this year getting on the ballot in 50 states and building a sophisticated platform for a secure online primary, casts the move as one in service of its populist goal of having no donor give more than $10,000. But its immediate effect may make it extremely difficult for the group, which is heavily bankrolled by its chairman, financier and philanthropist Peter Ackerman, to raise any more money at all, and particularly the kind of small, grassroots donations it seeks on its website.
So, interested voters are expected to pony up, not to advance the Americans Elect cause, but to pay back the millionaires who secretly got the group up and running? It seems like a tough sell.
I realize Americas Elect is in a position to have an effect on the presidential race, and has secured a ballot line in several key states. But as near as I can tell, it's an overly secretive, well-financed gimmick, eager to play electoral mischief for reasons that are known only to its leaders.