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Monday, November 14, 2011

Americans Elect Wants To Be On Presidential Ballot, But Won't ID Donors

A nonprofit organization called Americans Elect is aiming to host an online national political convention and up-end the way candidates are nominated for the U.S. presidency. Judy Woodruff reports on the latest attempt to push American politics away from a system dominated by two parties.

Americans Elect Wants To Be On Presidential Ballot, But Won't ID Donors

Americans Elect, a group trying to launch a third-party presidential ticket, was accused by a prominent campaign watchdog Wednesday of violating tax and campaign finance disclosure laws.
Fred Wertheimer, head of Democracy 21, said in a statement that the group is posing as a "social welfare group" rather than a political organization in order "to keep secret from the American people the donors supporting its political activities."
Social welfare groups don't have to disclose who underwrites them -- but they're also supposed to stay out of elections.
Meanwhile, at a kickoff event for Americans Elect at the National Press Club on Tuesday, the group's leaders described how they intend to put a "nonpartisan presidential ticket" -- chosen through an online, open nominating convention -- on the ballot in all 50 states. The goal, they said, it to give voters an alternative to the limited choice the two-party system provides.
Kahlil Byrd, the group's CEO, said it is operating "completely within the bounds" of the law. He noted that unlike a traditional political group, "Americans Elect has no candidate and has no issue."
As for the donors, he said, the reason they want to remain secret is to avoid political payback. "This is a very tough political environment," he said. "Retribution is real."
Byrd also, perhaps contradictorily, described donating to the campaign as "a small act of courage."
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