Bernie Sanders is the correct answer. However, Americans Elect is a sham
Americans Elect is still being tight-lipped about their donors, but they're fairly open about their leadership and prime staff, which includes a lot of CEOs, prominent conservatives, and other assorted controversial figures.
Take, for instance, Michael and Kellen Arno, Americans Elect's Ballot Access Advisor and National Field Director. This is important because they are also
President and Vice-President of Arno Political Consultants, a for-profit signature-gathering firm which has acquired somewhat of a reputation for fraudulent signatures and other ballot fraud
, almost always in while working for a big business, a far-right cause, or a Republican organization. Both Arnos appear to work almost exclusively with Republicans, and one conservative think-tank brags that Michael "has been involved in every Republican Presidential Campaign since 1980"
. Other sites corroborate the heavy Republican leanings
of the Arnos and their company. Of course, hiring a company with a strong reputation for ballot fraud doesn't bode well for Americans Elect's whole "decide-everything-by-ballot" strategy!
Dan Winslow, their Chief Legal Counsel, was previously Mitt Romney's chief legal counsel. Also, he's currently a freshman member of the Massachusetts House of Representatives, a Republican who campaigned on spending cuts and "entitlement reform", wants to cut public employee pay and benefits, and has vowed never to increase taxes while a State Representative.
Peter Ackerman, the Chairman of Americans Elect, is an ex-chairman of the Cato Institute. Before Americans Elect changed their tax status from a Section 527 political party to a Section 501c4 social welfare organization (which, unlike a political party, does not have to disclose its donors), he donated $1.55 million to Americans Elect and is currently the only donor whose identity we know. He also has ties to many corporations, including being a high-level executive or owner in no less than three companies
. Peter's son, Elliot Ackerman, is the Chief Operations Officer of Americans Elect and has no particular history or qualifications other than nepotism.
Also among their list of supporters is Mark McKinnon, executive in two media/communications companies. Claiming that personally meeting with George W. Bush was what inspired him to become a Republican, he was Bush's chief media advisor during Bush's campaigns, and gave the McCains some advice as a "close friend". Late last year, he helped found No Labels, a "grassroots" political non-profit which aims to be "a centrist equivalent to the tea-party movement on the right and MoveOn on the left", championing the cause of bipartisanship and protecting self-proclaimed moderates from so-called radicals from the far-left and far-right.
Not to worry, though, it's not JUST Republicans. Americans Elect also boasts such Democratic names as Will Marshall
, a New Democrat and founding member of the DLC, as well as the president of the neocon DLC thinktank known as the Progressive Policy Institute. And let's not forget his memorable service on the Committee for the Liberation of Iraq!
Of course, there's also an array of CEOs and high-ranking execs involved. Finance seems to be particularly overrepresented in their leadership, and I count no less than nine members who are high-level members of companies with names like "Strategic Investment Group", "Lionstone Capital Management", and "JP Morgan Chase & Co". They also count the Managing Director of the International Institute of Finance among their numbers.
If that's not enough for you, there's plenty more questionable connections
to be had.
This is all very very important, because the people influential enough to be listed as "Leadership" are very likely candidates for AE's "Candidate Certification Committee", which has the sole authority to veto proposed candidates. While they can be overruled by a supermajority vote from all
registered members of the AE party (not just 66% of the voters, but 66% of the people on the membership rolls), that is a ridiculous and almost impossible requirement.
In addition, they've attempted to deflect criticism based on their big-money donations by claiming that the money they've raised from big-money donors so far is just "low-interest loans" that will be paid back as they get more small donors. At first glance, it sounds reasonable. But what that really means is that a significant percentage of real donations will be diverted to paying off (with interest) the original investments from their rich initial "donors". It amounts to admitting that every time someone donates a dollar to Americans Elect, part of that dollar goes directly to paying off their richest supporters. Which, I suppose, is another reason why they want to keep their finances secret as long as possible.