Thursday, November 03, 2011

What's That Smell?

Last week I commented on an organization, America Elects, which had announced plans to place a third party presidential candidate on the ballot in all fifty states. It appears that the group is going to make its goal, which raises both of my eyebrows.

From the Los Angeles Times:

The group announced Wednesday that it has qualified for the Ohio ballot and is awaiting certification in California, Utah, Hawaii and Arkansas. It has already gained ballot access in three other key swing states – Florida, Michigan and Nevada – as well as Arizona, Alaska and Kansas.

“The American people are dissatisfied with the two-party system and the limited choice it offers,” Chief Operating Officer Elliot Ackerman said Wednesday at a press conference at the National Press Club. ...

The group plans to hold a web-based national convention in June, through which participants will nominate a presidential candidate. A vice presidential candidate will also be chosen, but the group’s rules require that the candidates on the eventual ticket cannot share a party affiliation.

Yes, the American people are dissatisfied with both parties at this point in our history, and for good reason. Both appear to be in the back pockets of corporate interests, our owners. The Occupy Wall Street movement didn't just arise because kids needed something to protest and fill their time. I'm not so certain that justifies a third party emerging from the collective forehead of some group which has been manufactured just in time for the 2012 presidential elections. As I noted last week, the problems we see involve both the White House and Congress, neither of which are paying any attention to the other 99% of us, yet America Elects is only focused on the presidency.

The group claims it doesn't intend just to be a spoiler, pointing to the rule that the presidential and vice presidential candidates must have different party affiliations, but that hardly seems an adequate response. The nominations will come from an internet poll, one that can be as easily manipulated as the straw polls that candidates win by putting on the most lavish of barbecues, as we've seen thus far in the GOP campaigns. Something else has to be going on.

And, as the current Times article suggests, something is: America Elects is not operating as a political party, but as a nonprofit.

The group has come under fire for its status as a nonprofit social welfare organization, which allows it to keep the names of its donors secret. We reported in July that the group had raised $20 million from between 300 and 400 donors, with no contribution exceeding $5 million.

In late September, campaign finance watchdog groups Democracy 21 and the Campaign Legal Center sent a letter to the IRS asking that the service investigate Americans Elect and three other groups claiming social welfare status.

Fred Wertheimer, president of Democracy 21, raised the issue again on Wednesday as Americans Elect was trumpeting its successes at the National Press Club.

“A political party is not entitled to be treated as a ‘social welfare’ organization under federal tax laws and is required to disclose its donors. Period,” Wertheimer said. “The idea that a political party – whose whole purpose is to nominate and elect candidates for office – can also be a ‘social welfare’ organization for tax purposes is an oxymoron.”
[Emphasis added]

Money is pouring into the group's coffers, but there is no way of telling from whom. That smells like bad haddock to me. It suggests that the election is going to be manipulated by the very people who have been manipulating our government for decades.

There's something wrong here, and it does need to be investigated thoroughly and now.

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Blogger shrimplate said...

Maybe they could nickname themselves "the party of transparency."

4:13 PM  
Blogger fred c said...

Great title, and you're right, this definitely fails the smell test. God, I hate election years. These new ones are enough to make one long for the smoke filled rooms of the past.

8:32 AM  

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