Evan Smith

Gov. Rick Perry speaks at The Tribune Festival at the AT&T Convention Center on Sunday morning. Perry reviewed his 14-year tenure as the state’s executive and discussed multiple issues such as health care, education and the Texas economy.

Photo Credit: Shelby Tauber | Daily Texan Staff

Closing The Texas Tribune Festival on Sunday morning, Gov. Rick Perry reviewed his 14-year tenure as the state’s executive at the AT&T Executive Education and Conference Center, discussing health care, education and the Texas economy.

In an interview with Evan Smith, Texas Tribune CEO and editor-in-chief, Perry repeatedly refused to answer any questions about his Travis County grand jury indictment. When Smith jokingly threatened to stop asking questions and sit in silence, Perry said he was fine with that.

“It’ll be a long hour,” Perry said. “I had a date like that one time.”

Public education has been adequately funded by the state legislature, according to Perry.

“I don’t judge progress by how many dollars we spend,” Perry said. “I think it’s simplistic to say you’re not spending enough money. I suggest the result is hard to argue when you look at the number of kids going to college today and when they got a job out of school.”

Perry also said he still supports providing in-state tuition for undocumented students, and it should be no issue for the Texas Legislature to aid students in earning a higher education degree.

“I think it’s important for young people to move up, get that certificate or diploma,” Perry said.

Perry defended his stance against the Affordable Care Act.

“I’ve asked Washington multiple times for more flexibility to deal with the issue of health care and how we could receive the money from D.C. and restructure these programs so more people could have access,” Perry said. “In 2009, President Obama said Medicaid was broken, and I agree with him. So why would we want to expand a broken system?”

The Veterans Affairs hospitals around the country exemplify the future of government-run health care, according to Perry.

“The VA is a debacle,” Perry said. “I think one of the ways you fix health care is [to] get Washington out of the regulatory side of it and to allow the state to run it. Just like expansion of federally funded health clinics. Making access to health care is the real challenge here, not government-forced insurance.”

Although he is largely satisfied with his 14-year run as governor, Perry said he regrets his handling of his 2007 vaccine mandate for HPV. 

“I would have done it differently,” Perry said. “I would have engaged the public more. I thought the public understood this from the standpoint of a cancer. The execution was wrong. I was thinking out my heart instead of my head, and I want to make the people of Texas be more engaged. We’re not executive order types.”

Citing his run in the 2012 presidential election, Perry said he has not yet decided about another presidential run.

“I went through a very humbling and frustrating process in 2011 and 2012,” Perry said. “I was not prepared. It was obvious. I may or may not run for presidency, but, in order to give myself that option, you have do the work that is required.”

Perry reiterated his support for UT System Regent Wallace Hall and said the legislature should allow the Board of Regents to conduct its business unimpeded. He also defended his signing of House Bill 2.

Displaying a chart showing job growth in Texas, Perry also spoke about how the Texas Enterprise Fund — an incentive program that encourages businesses to come to Texas — has aided economic growth for the past decade.

“We became very good at economic development,” Perry said. “It took a while — [when] Boeing deciding in 2001 to move their corporate headquarters they chose Chicago instead of Dallas, they didn’t think the cultural arts were as expansive in Dallas as in Chicago.”

Since then, Perry said, cultural arts have exploded in the state’s major cities. Perry said, although the program has benefited Texas, it is up to the legislature to discuss the lifespan of the incentive bill and see whether it should continue.

“I think if they want to change them, if they want to unilaterally get out of the economic development business, that’s their call,” Perry said. “But, I would suggest over the last decade, we have been successful in large projects and small projects.”

Undeclared sophomore Lauren Hodges said she appreciated Perry’s performance.

“There were parts where he was being humble, and he’s not known for being humble,” Hodges said. “But when he dodged the whole hypocrisy question, I thought that was kind of pathetic.”

Smith said he thought Perry interviewed especially well Sunday.

“I’ve interviewed him many times over the past years, and I thought this was the most relaxed I’ve seen him,” Smith said after the interview. “We’ve had some contentious interviews over the years. I would have liked to talk more about the indictments, but I understand he was constrained by the legal process.”

 

Check out more photos from The 2014 Texas Tribune Festival in the slideshow below ~

Photo Credit: Shelby Tauber | Daily Texan Staff

Less than 24 hours after her gubernatorial debate with Attorney General Greg Abbott, state Sen. Wendy Davis, D-Fort Worth, spoke with Evan Smith, The Texas Tribune CEO and editor-in-chief, at The Texas Tribune Festival on Saturday.

“I had an opportunity to show in stark contrast these two people who are asking to serve Texas as its next governor,” Davis said. “I think I was able to demonstrate that I will be a governor who will fight every single day for the people of this state.”

In the talk, held at the AT&T Executive Education and Conference Center, Davis expanded on her plan to provide pre-kindergarten to all eligible children in the state.

“We are the number one state of adults without a high school diploma,” Davis said. “By 2040, 40 percent of our adults will not have a high school diploma.”

Davis estimated that her plan would cost around $700 million on a sliding scale.

“The more important question is what does it cost if we don’t invest?” Davis said. “If we don’t invest in them, it will hurt our state economy in the future. This race is about the future of Texas and if we’re going to make the investments needed to create a successful future.”

Public relations freshman Cody Church said he saw an improvement in Davis’ performance Saturday and appreciated how relaxed she sounded in contrast to Friday’s debate. He also said he liked her view on pre-kindergarten.

“I really enjoy how much she’s advocating for universal pre-k,” Church said. “It’s a great investment in kids in the future. There are so many studies that say pre-k sets kids so much farther when they enter elementary school.”

Davis also talked about the importance of higher education and getting students into college. One thing hindering students from college, she said, was the hike in in-state tuition.

“Our tuitions have doubled or more than doubled in some of our universities, and, at the same time, we’ve seen a decline in financial aid,” Davis said. “Even for the students who are receiving those grants, they aren't receiving enough to close the gap. The legislature made the decision to thin down the amount students could get. If we want to make sure we have the work force for the jobs of tomorrow, we have to invest in our kids.”

Davis said she supported giving in-state tuition to undocumented students, and would veto a bill that threatened to take away that in-state tuition.

“Students should get in-state tuition who have [been] brought here on no fault of their own,” Davis said. “We should be focusing our resources on the real problems of drug trafficking, human trafficking, and not thinking about people who are willing to work hard, willing to learn English. That was George W. Bush’s plan, and I agree with it.”

Davis also addressed the controversy of the timing of her memoir’s publication. Abbott’s campaign filed a request to the Texas Ethics Commission to come to a decision about her book tour and if it conflicted with her political campaign ethically.

“It was a very personal book, not a political book,” Davis said. “When I agreed to write it, I agreed to write a very public book. I released the book when I completed the book. I am proud to show people how I came to be how I am, and why I am fighting for the things I am fighting for.”

Davis also answered Abbott’s question from Friday’s debate about voting for Obama.

“I don’t regret it,” Davis said. “There are things our president has done I agree wholeheartedly with. There are things I disagree with too. In my area of the state, both President Obama and Greg Abbott tried to intervene and stop the merger between U.S. Airways and American Airlines. Do you understand what that would have done for the economy of the state? Neither of them showed an understanding of the economic engine that is American Airlines.”

Abbott declined to speak at this year's Tribune Festival.

“It’s disappointing because I really am an independent voter,” Church said. “I would love to see both sides. That keeps both people on their toes.”

Photo Credit: Shelby Tauber | Daily Texan Staff

George P. Bush, Republican candidate for land commissioner, opened the 2014 Texas Tribune Festival on Friday by discussing his stance on a wide-range of issues impacting the state. 

At the talk held at the AT&T Executive Education and Conference Center, moderator Evan Smith asked Bush, the grandson of presidents George H.W. Bush and nephew of George W. Bush, if the magnetic pull of his surname drew him into politics.

“I would describe it more as a desire to serve others,” Bush said. “Always think about others before you think about yourself. Not all Bushes are in politics there are 18 grandchildren, and I’m the only one crazy enough to enter the arena.”

After being introduced by President William Powers Jr.,  Bush said his skill sets would help him fill the role of land commissioner successfully. He spoke about his hope for the future of Texas energy.

“You look at the potential for a generation to be truly energy secure,” Bush said. “When I was graduating from UT-Austin, we were importing two-thirds of our petroleum products. Now we’re at a quarter. Within ten years, we’ll only need Canadian and Mexican [products] to power our needs.”

Bush, who is a businessman and former history teacher, said he also wants to push water conservation. According to Bush, brackish water has potential for the Texan economy.

“In terms of water conservation, there’s a lot we can do,” Bush said. “[Water] is a 22 billion problem we will face for the next 20 years. Brackish water can be used in fracking for industrial purposes. We have enough to cover the state with four feet of brackish water.”

Smith, the Tribune's CEO and editor-in-chief, then shifted the conversation to issues that Bush has firm stances on. Bush said he supports the state law allowing undocumented students to receive in-state tuition at public universities.

Bush also said he is not sold on the true cause of global warming.

“What we can agree is, over the course of human history, is that there are climatic changing,” Bush said. “The bigger debate is if its man-made. We need to depoliticize the debate and allow scientists to make a definitive call and look at it through a long-term lens. I have to deal with the immediate needs on the gulf coast, and that’s where I have the most impact.”

When audience member Charlie Bonner, a Plan II and government freshman, asked how Bush viewed the politicization of textbooks, Bush said he would give curriculum authority to local government and school boards.

Bonner said he was not impressed with his answer.

“I actually just thought of the question when he said was a teacher and and member of the Republican party,” Bonner said. “His answer jumped around the issue by putting it back in the hands of locals, which could still lead to the political winds of the teachers and communities. I’m not sure he actually solved any problem with that question.”

Photo Credit: Dan Resler | Daily Texan Staff

Over the weekend, the UT campus was overrun with plastic-badge-wearing festival-goers, all of them attending the Texas Tribune Festival, a three-day event featuring politicians and policy wonks from across the state discussing topics ranging from juvenile justice to energy policy. The festival’s big names are the big draw for many, but the real reason to attend is the many moments that occur when you put public figures to real-time questioning. (Imagine an SNL episode cast with gubernatorial candidates.) Students who missed out on the fun should consider the missed moments listed below as reasons to make an appearance next year. 

1. Anita Perry, first lady of Texas, cautiously stating that abortion “could be a woman’s right.”

In a one-on-one panel with Tribune Editor-in-Chief and CEO Evan Smith on Saturday, Texas’ first lady Anita Perry made some confusing statements about a woman’s right to abortion. When Smith posed a question to Perry about whether or not she agreed entirely with her husband during this summer’s tense debate over abortion-limiting legislation, Perry answered, “That could be a woman’s right. Just like it’s a man’s right if he wants to have that sort of procedure. But I’m not, I don’t agree with it, and that’s not my view, but I’m not gonna criticize Wendy Davis...you know, the older that I get, there are two sides to every nickel.” 

2. Greg Abbott’s convoluted explanation of how Obamacare exists because of voter fraud in Minnesota. 

In a one-on-one conversation with Ross Ramsey, executive editor of the Tribune on Saturday, Attorney General and current gubernatorial candidate Greg Abbott made an interesting point, namely, that the voter ID law protects against voter fraud, which protects against unfair elections, one of which led to the victory of Senator Al Franken of Minnesota, whose vote in favor of Obamacare allowed the president’s health care plan to exist. Or, as Abbott put it, “Without voter fraud, Obamacare would not exist.” With a grin on his face, Abbott saw his convoluted explanation through to the end, despite the laughs coming from the audience. Valid or not (we’re too confused to judge it), Abbott’s sticking to his guns and seeing his argument through was a highlight of the day. 

3. Regent Wallace Hall admits to not having read something — namely, the bill written about him.

In a panel on the role of regents in university governance, UT System Regent Wallace Hall, who is currently undergoing impeachment procedures, admitted that he hadn’t even read the bill filed by Sen. Judith Zaffirini, D-Laredo, last legislative session to mandate more extensive training for members of the board of regents — a piece of legislation inspired in no small part by the controversy caused by Hall himself. The bill was eventually vetoed by Gov. Rick Perry, so Hall didn’t miss out on any necessary information. But hearing the man who, according to the Austin American-Statesman, is “working his way through more than 30 books on the history of war” and is a “voracious reader” admit to not having read something was a delightful surprise. 

4. Ted Cruz saying he would have read the crowd Dr. Seuss.

At the end of an almost hour-long conversation with Smith that Sen. Ted Cruz teleconferenced into from Washington, the much-talked about and often-reviled senator demonstrated that he has a charming side by joking that he “had intended at the end to read everybody ‘Cat in the Hat.’” To which we say, there’s always next year, Senator. 

Distinguished members of Austin’s medical community gathered with civic leaders Monday afternoon at the Four Seasons Hotel to discuss the upcoming Dell Medical School and the work of People’s Community Clinic at the “There’s No Such Thing as a Free Lunch” luncheon. 

Dr. Steven Leslie, executive vice president and provost of UT, was the keynote speaker of the event and is spearheading the development of UT’s new Dell Medical School.

Leslie said the Dell Medical School will be a community-engaged medical school reaching out to all areas of medicine, as well as a school for research and the expansion of biomedical engineering and neuroscience on campus.

“We will engage the process of new discovery and innovation with the medical school in areas that will launch it as a centerpiece for learning more about medicine and medical research,” Leslie said. “But also as an economic engine for the central Texas area.”

Leslie said the medical school will be at the forefront of computational science with Stampede, a supercomputer which is 20 times more powerful than Ranger, the most powerful supercomputer five years ago.

“When you deal with the complexities of the human body and brain, the computational capacity that you need is huge,” Leslie said. “It will help us in terms of new discoveries as we move forward and medical research areas.”

Leslie said the financial platforms are laid and the resources for the first buildings are well underway. A steering committee is being put together to manage the medical school and an inaugural dean will be in place before the end of the year. Leslie anticipates the first medical class to take place in 2016.

Evan Smith, CEO and editor-in-chief of The Texas Tribune, was master of ceremonies for the event and acknowledged the sponsors and notable officials attending the luncheon. Among those in attendance were Rep. Elliott Naishtat, D-Travis, and Mayor Lee Leffingwell.

Founded by volunteer nurses and doctors in 1970, the clinic works to deliver high-quality, affordable healthcare to 10,000 uninsured and underserved central Texans a year.

Smith said according to a recent report, 6.2 million Texans are without insurance.

“That is the highest number of citizens, raw number and percentage, of any of the 50 states,” Smith said. “PCC, of course, addresses that problem and so much more by providing care to those in need.”

Dr. Robert Sorin, director of reproductive health for the clinic, said their concern is delivering the greatest good to the greatest number of people when there is a finite amount of space that only a small number of providers can see to.

The luncheon raised more than $400,000 through donors and sponsors to support the mission of the People’s Community Clinic, more than the annual event has ever raised in the past.

Printed on Tuesday, April 2, 2013 as: Provost discusses medical school 

Evan Smith, Texas Tribune founder and CEO, expressed optimism about the future of journalism Thursday in a lecture in the Joynes Reading Room. He argued that the digital transformation of news is an important part of the industry’s future success.

Photo Credit: Gabriella Belzer | Daily Texan Staff

Journalism trailblazer Evan Smith showed optimism for the future of digital news during a lecture Thursday in the Joynes Reading Room.

In “The Evolution will be Digitized: The Future of New News,” Smith explained how the digital transformation of news should be met by current and aspiring journalists. 

The Texas Tribune is a nonpartisan, nonprofit media organization, using an all-digital platform to cover state government and public policy in Texas. 

According to Matthew Valentine, senior program coordinator for the Joynes Reading Room, as the editor-in-chief and CEO of The Texas Tribune, Smith has experienced the new frontier of journalism firsthand. 

“By creating The Texas Tribune, Smith was a pioneer in this transitional period in journalism,” Valentine said.

Simply put, Smith’s view of future journalism and the opportunities for future journalists is optimistic. 

“I do believe that, contrary to what you may have heard about this being the worst possible time to be both in school and to be getting out of school and look for work in the media, I think this is the absolute best time for that, that I’m aware of,” Smith said. “I envy the kids getting out of school today.”

Smith said current students have the advantage of growing up in a technological world, making the acquisition of competitive skills more natural to them. Additionally, he warned that those skills have now become necessary for work in journalism.

“You are first-generation technophiles ... You have skills we need to be competitive,” Smith said. “You get out of school today, you better be able to edit video, edit audio, you gotta be able to do a little bit of HTML coding, you gotta be able to write, you gotta be able to take photos, you’ve got to be a Swiss army knife.”

Mayor of Atlanta Kasim Reed speaks on gun law reforms and explains his plans for the public education system and poverty reforms at an interview in KLRU’s studio Tuesday morning.

Photo Credit: Jonathan Garza | Daily Texan Staff

On Tuesday morning, Kasim Reed, the 59th mayor of Atlanta, made a special appearance on Overheard, a KLRU-hosted television series hosted by Evan Smith, editor in chief and CEO of The Texas Tribune.

During the interview, Evan Smith asked Reed pressing questions about gun law reforms, the present and future status of Atlanta’s public education system and poverty reforms.

While Reed expressed Atlanta’s great respect for the second amendment, he also voiced several precautions he said must be taken in order to protect the city and the country.

“What I care about more than folks wanting to have access to soft guns are the women and men and the 1,900 police officers that work for the system,” Reed said. “I don’t want them to ever arrive to the scene and feel outgunned.”

Since Reed was elected in 2010, Atlanta has seen the lowest number of felonies since 1969. Reed attributes this success to building the biggest police force in the history of the city.

“Crime reduction is not really rocket science,” Reed said. “You choose where you’re going to put your resources.”

In addition to hiring 700 new police officers, Reed chose to pool his resources into upgrading video technology and modernizing techniques such as crime mapping. 

While most of the interview focused on gun violence, Reed mentioned improving Atlanta’s schools by removing the school board so that the state could implement reforms.

“We’re going to recruit a superintendent like you would recruit a football coach for UT,” Reed said. 

Allie Sandza, public affairs producer at KLRU, said the show is expected to air March 21.

“Evan Smith, who hosts the show is super connected, so we were able to get the mayor while he was originally here for the Texas Legislative Back Caucus Summit,” Sandza said.

Overheard with Evan Smith is in its third season and showcases in-depth interviews with guests from a variety of fields.

Smith ended the interview by asking about the possibility of Reed campaigning for a higher office.

“Fighters don’t become champions when they fight too early,” Reed said. “I made a promise to Atlanta and I want to finish the job I have.”

Published on February 27, 2013 as " Atlanta mayor talks policy to KLRU". 

Republicans lost because they went too far to the right, disenfranchising Hispanics, youth voters, women and moderates, according to LBJ panelists in Bass Lecture Hall on Thursday.

Wayne Slater, a columnist for the Dallas Morning news; Sherri Greenberg, director of the Center for Politics and Governance; Victoria Defrancesco Soto, a fellow for the Center; and Evan Smith, CEO and editor-in-chief of the Texas Tribune, broadly agreed that if the Republican party did not endorse a platform more moderate than the platform this year, the 2012 election would mark the beginning of a long-term decline.

“You know your party is in trouble when someone says, ‘What about the rape guy?’ and you say ‘Which one?’” Slater said in reference to women’s votes for Obama, which CNN national exit polls put at 55 percent.

DeFrancesco Soto said she saw an opportunity for Republicans to win over women, but they would have to give up some of their views on institutions such as Planned Parenthood.

“They fiscally are Republican, but they want a Planned Parenthood,” DeFrancesco Soto said. “They want to be sure Planned Parenthood rights are secured not just for themselves but for their daughters.”

DeFrancesco Soto also said voting laws were intended to repress the Democratic vote, but they actually had the opposite effect.

“I think it had a mobilizing effect,” she said. “I think young folks, black folks and brown folks said, ‘People are taking our vote away. We don’t really like this.’”

Panelists said they thought if Romney campaigned on his record as a moderate from Massachusetts, he would have had a chance at the election and that with the Republican party of today, he couldn’t have made it that far.

“If he had run as the Mitt Romney who governed Massachusetts, that Mitt Romney might have survived the election,” Smith said. “But he wouldn’t have survived the primary.”

Danny Zeng, College Republicans spokesperson, said he disagreed with the premise of the panel that Republicans are extreme.

“I think the Romney campaign didn’t define itself very well,” Zeng said. “The Democrats in this election have used a strategy where they talk to each party and tell them the Republicans are extreme.”

Zeng said he believed true Republican positions on issues like immigration shouldn’t turn off immigrants, because they support a pathway to citizenship, even though they don’t support amnesty.

At the end of the panel, Slater said no matter who takes part in the 2016 election, he wants to see more centered rhetoric.

“I think it’s imperative we have a presidential debate where the adults are in the room but not the children,” Slater said.

Printed on Friday, November 9, 2012 as: Columnists, experts credit 2012 outcome to red rhetoric 

Texas Tribune CEO and Editor-in-Chief Evan Smith speaks with UT President William Powers, Jr. at last yearÂ’s Texas Tribune Festival.

Photo Credit: Fanny Trang | Daily Texan Staff

Evan Smith, CEO and editor-in-chief of The Texas Tribune, spoke to The Daily Texan about this weekend’s second annual Texas Tribune Festival. The Festival is a weekend-long event with panels, discussions, debates and dialogues about current national and state political issues.

The Daily Texan: Why would it be important for UT students to go to the Texas Tribune Festival this weekend?
Smith: UT-Austin is a campus in a city that fancies itself the intellectual capital of the state. This is a place where all good men and women come together to fight about, discuss and debate the big issues of the day. The UT campus has had a long tradition of being a locus of that conversation. I think if you’re a UT student, your responsibility and obligation when you come to campus every day is to show up mentally as well as physically and be part of the dialogue and the conversation.

The Daily Texan: I know you will be talking to Ted Cruz and Julian Castro. Can you give us a preview of what you’re going to be asking them?
Smith:
We’re going to talk about the future of Texas politics, which the two of them, together or separate, embody or exemplify. They are both younger than me. Castro is 38 and Cruz is 41, so they are going to be around for a long time, and they both represent very different views that are very much aligned with the times.

The Daily Texan: Are you excited for this weekend?
Evan Smith:
Absolutely. The problem with being so close to something, both physically and emotionally, is it’s hard to enjoy it. The reality is I have a lot of anxiety about this weekend. It’s not necessarily about any one thing. It’s going to go great. It’s going to be a huge success. We’re excited as can be about it, but it’s a big event. It’s a big event in terms of where the Tribune sees itself going forward. I’d rather be cautious than nervous, but I think it’s going to be great.

The Daily Texan: How is this year’s festival going to be different from last year’s festival?
Smith:
We have more speakers. We are spread out over three days and not two. We tried to make our focus more about the state than the country. I think there is an essential key element that is the same, and that is we are bringing together the people who are in the position to make a difference in the state. We have the people in the rooms this weekend who run the state, and we’re going to ask them the hard questions. We’re going to get them to argue and discuss about the issues that matter. Hopefully people will walk out of those rooms better educated about the state.

From left to ri

Photo Credit: Raveena Bhalara | Daily Texan Staff

Due to a reporting error in a March 1 article about a forum discussing the two-party election system, the name Koch was mispelled as “Coke”.

Tapping into voter frustration about special interests and the two party election system, third party voting group Americans Elect made its campaign stop Wednesday night at the LBJ School of Public Affairs.

Americans Elect CEO Kahlil Byrd and Mark McKinnon of Hill+Knowlton Strategies spoke on behalf of the group, which seeks to create a national online primary and allow its candidate to have access to ballots in all 50 states in time for the November election. The organization wants to create a three-way race that will allow its candidate to bypass primaries and effectively compete with the Republican and Democratic national parties, Byrd said.

“At a time when special interests and the radical wings of two parties dominate the stage, we find that millions of people are looking to have another choice,” Byrd said. “Americans want new leadership on the presidential ticket in 2012.”

Americans Elect also hopes to fulfill the role of center that has been crumbling under assault from a hyperpolarizing political atmosphere. Given the flight of moderates such as Olympia Snowe and Joe Lieberman from Congress, Americans Elect hopes to offer independents a greater degree of choice, Byrd said.

“When you look through the recent popularity booms in the Republican primaries, we see that the ability of Americans to absorb a new candidate is pretty high,” Byrd said. “People continue to look for another candidate, and they hunger for candidates that put forth ideas that matter.”

A panel of Austinites questioned Byrd and McKinnon. They consisted of government professor Bruce Buchanan and Talia Stroud, assistant director to the Annette Strauss Institute for Civic Participation Communication Studies, as well as Texas Tribune editor-in-chief Evan Smith. Smith said the group was not disclosing who its donors were, which is a lack of transparency.

“You talk about the crippling influence of money, but how are you any different when we don’t know who you are receiving money from,” Smith said. “If I were the Koch brothers and I decided that I’m trying to defeat Obama, and that Romney isn’t the guy to do it, why not invest in a third party to pull votes away from his candidacy.”

Smith also praised the organization for trying to expand direct democracy, but said that the ultimate goals of Americans Elect were confusing.

“If your goal is to remove barriers to ballot access, why not raise the money to change the laws,” Smith said. “Why have three parties when you could have four or five?”

Americans Elect has recently succeeded in obtaining the ballot in California, a significant victory, and raised around $30 million for its ballot buying campaign. Its non-disclosure policy will remain in place to protect candidates from donor influence, McKinnon said, and the organization hopes to have narrowed its current 350 candidates to six by the mid-summer election season.”