Jim Cook has been doing investigative reporting for the better part of a decade about Americans Elect and their previous incarnation as Unity ’08. In the last several days he has posted a trio of articles about the organization’s latest incarnation as Level the Playing Field:
A tip of the pen to Richard Winger of Ballot Access News, who broke the leading edge of this story:
Americans Elect is back.
The Wall Street-funded corporation that sought to run its own privatized candidate in the 2008 and 2012 U.S. presidential elections has changed its name to the “Level the Playing Field Foundation”
Americans Elect has returned in a new guise. The corporation that started as Unity08, sought to direct its own privatized presidential nomination in 2008 and 2012, and failed in those bids due to a lack of public support is now regathering its staff and reintroducing itself as the Level the Playing Field Foundation under the sole funding of Wall Street tycoon Peter Ackerman.
The Americans Elect plan for 2016 is new, but follows a consistent trend of altering the odds through policy change. When as Unity08 it failed to get its “grassroots” presidential nomination off the ground in 2008 because it was forbidden from taking secret contributions of unlimited size, the corporation sued the FEC to change the rules and ultimately won the right to take secret large money contributions in the next round of presidential elections, renamed Americans Elect. But as Americans Elect found out, secret large money wasn’t enough to get a presidential nomination off the ground in the 2012 election. Americans Elect portrayed itself as a “grassroots” “movement” and wrote its own rules to require that actual Americans vote in its privatized presidential nomination system. Fewer than 5,000 Americans actually participated in the Americans Elect nomination, however, which triggered an automatic failure of Americans Elect’s own presidential nominating rules. The changes Americans Elect seeks, in a petition to the Federal Election Commission under the name of “Level the Playing Field,” is an attempt to fix that problem, too.
The story Americans Elect has been telling itself (and its funders) is that it would have been more popular and successful if only it had been willing to convince the just the right candidate to accept an Americans Elect nomination. It turns out, you see, that while Americans Elect had been telling everyone that it had no favorite candidates, it had been actually been courting a certain set of potential candidates and begging them to get into the race under the Americans Elect banner. Americans Elect corporate team members Cara McCormick and Darry Sragow explained these recruitment activities in a 2012 post-mortem document to Americans Elect financial supporters:
The return of Americans Elect as the Level the Playing Field Foundation signifies plans for the 2016 presidential election that bear watching, especially considering the deep pockets of Level the Playing Field’s chairman and sole funder, the private wealth investment tycoon Peter Ackerman.
The point at which Americans Elect began to noticeably move forward with its plan to run a privatized U.S. presidential nomination was when it started registering itself as a corporation with the various states of the union. This was vital to Americans Elect’s plan to engage the public as participants in its presidential nominating process and to obtain ballot access in the states for 2012. By 2011, the year before the presidential election, Americans Elect was registered as a corporation in each of the 50 states.
Where, in comparison, is the Level the Playing Field Foundation registered? To find out requires a search of each state’s business records. If as the months of 2015 pass the Level the Playing Field Foundation continues to ramp up its activity, we should be able to see similar state registrations popping up for LPFF.
This weekend, I’ve used the corporate entity search function of each of the fifty state governments in the United States, plus the District of Columbia.