November 6, 1946 |
New York City
|Alma mater||Colgate University and Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy|
|Years active||1973 to present|
Board member of
|Council on Foreign Relations|
Peter Ackerman (born November 6, 1946) is a businessman, the founder and chairman of Americans Elect, and is founding chair of the International Center on Nonviolent Conflict. Ackerman is currently the managing director of Rockport Capital, Inc.
Peter Ackerman was born in New York City, New York. He received his undergraduate degree in political science from Colgate University. After graduating from Colgate, he attended the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University where he earned a Ph.D. in 1976 in International Relations. While at Tufts, he studied under Gene Sharp and Robert Pfaltzgraff. Ackerman's thesis, Strategic Aspects of Nonviolent Resistance Movements, examined the nonviolent strategy and tactics used by people who are living under oppression and have no viable military option to free themselves.
Dispute resolution career
In 1983 Ackerman co-founded the Albert Einstein Institute, which according to Bloomberg News, "advises pro-democracy activists on how to topple dictators via protests and mock elections". In 1989 Ackerman consulted with student protestors from China following the Tiananmen Square incident. In 1990 he moved to London where he was a visiting scholar at the International Institute for Strategic Studies. During this time he co-authored the book Strategic Nonviolent Conflict: The Dynamics of People Power in the Twentieth Century with Christopher Kruegler.
Ackerman was also a series editor and principal content advisor in the television version of Steve York's 1999 Emmy-nominated film A Force More Powerful: A Century of Nonviolent Conflict, which charts the history of civilian-based resistance in the 20th Century, and co-authored with Jack DuVall a book of the same title. In 2002, Ackerman was the Executive Producer of the PBS-TV documentary Bringing Down A Dictator, the sequel to A Force More Powerful, which chronicled the fall of Serbian leader Slobodan Milosevic by nonviolent means. The documentary received a 2003 Peabody Award and was the recipient of the 2002 ABC News VideoSource Award of the International Documentary Association. Eli J. Lake stated that Ackerman's book was in fact one of the blueprints used by the Optor movement that overthrew Miloslevic.
According to Bloomberg, "In 2005, he co-wrote a study showing that non-violent action had been instrumental in 50 of 67 transitions to democracy since 1972, including in Chile, the Philippines and Poland. He has funded workshops for dissidents from Central Asia, Iran, Iraq and North Korea ... Ackerman also funded the Center for Applied Nonviolent Action and Strategies, which was started in 2003 by student leaders who’d helped bring down Serbian dictator Slobodan Milosevic three years earlier. Some members of Egypt’s April 6 movement, which toppled President Hosni Mubarak, took civil resistance training from Canvas organizers in Belgrade." In 2005 Ackerman became a director of the Institute for Strategic Studies' IISS-US office. Ackerman was also a founding chair of the International Center on Nonviolent Conflict.
In 1973, Ackerman joined the investment bank Drexel Burnham Lambert. From 1978 to 1990, Ackerman was Director of International Capital Markets Drexel until the company filed for bankruptcy. While at Drexel, Ackerman made more than $300 million working alongside 'Junk Bond King' Michael Milken, raising billions of dollars for junk-bond-fueled takeovers. This included the second highest take-home salary in Wall Street history as of 1988, the year he received $165 million. Criminal charges were never brought against Ackerman in Drexel's insider trading scandal, and Ackerman publicly denounced the treatment of Milken and other leaders at Drexel by the firm once the government began to investigate them. Ackerman subsequently paid a $73 million settlement in a civil case brought against him by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation and the Resolution Trust Corporation.
After leaving Drexel, Ackerman founded several other companies including Safari Acquisition. One of Safari's attempted acquisitions was its 1996 bid for control of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Inc. His main investment firms include Rockport Capital Inc. and Crown Capital. In 2002 Ackerman co-founded the online grocery service FreshDirect.
Ackerman is currently a member of the Board of the Council on Foreign Relations, is the Chair Emeritus of the Board of Advisors of The Fletcher School at Tufts University, his alma mater and is the former chair of the board of trustees of Freedom House, a position in which he served from September 2005 until January 2009.
In 2008, Ackerman sat on the board for Unity08, an organization looking to fund third-party candidates. In October, 2012 Ackerman, along with New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg and Passport Capital founder John Burbank, funded the purchase of $1.75 million in independent political advertising, in the name of Ackerman's tax-exempt Americans Elect organization, supporting the Senate campaign of Maine governor Angus King. Ackerman contributed the initial $5 million seed money to Americans Elect, a 2012 third-party Presidential nomination initiative, and serves as Chairman of its Board of Directors. Ackerman's son, Elliot, serves as Chief Operating Officer of Americans Elect. On May 17, 2012 Americans Elect, unable to mount a successful primary ballot, announced that "The primary process for the Americans Elect nomination has come to an end."
In 2003 Ackerman sued the California Franchise Tax Board to recover $5 million in taxes previously paid. He lost the case on appeal. In 2005 a bill was introduced in the California legislature, which was noted by a Senate Revenue and Taxation Committee analysis to appear to solely benefit Ackerman at a potential cost of $5 million to the state. That year the United States Tax Court ruled that Ackerman was involved in an illegal $1.7 billion tax shelter and the IRS determined that Ackerman owed $150 million in taxes, a case resolved in June 2011 in an undisclosed settlement. Another tax court ruling in 2009 found that he owed an additional $2.6 million.
- "Peter Ackerman - Founding Chair". International Center on Nonviolent Conflict. 2009. Archived from the original on 2010-10-12. Retrieved 2010-10-12.
- "Fletcher Students and Alumni Convene in DC for Annual Career Trip". The Fletcher School. "completed his doctoral dissertation, Strategic Aspects of Nonviolent Resistance Movements, under Professor Pfaltzgraff and Gene Sharp while at Fletcher"
- Kambiz Foroohar (January 4, 2012). "Internet Picks Presidential Candidate If Ackerman Gets His Way". Bloomberg. Retrieved April 23, 2014.
- Eli J. Lake (September 1, 2003). "The New Velvet Revolutionaries: Agitating for Kinder, Gentler Regime Change". The Washington Monthly. Retrieved April 23, 2014.
- "Social Security Choice - Project Board". Cato Institute.
- "2005 Spring newsletter". IISS. "The current Directors are now: Dr Peter Ackerman, Ambassador Richard Burt, Dr John Chipman, Michael Draeger"
- "Peter Ackerman". Retrieved May 22, 2014.
- "Internet Picks Presidential Candidate If Ackerman Gets His Way". Bloomberg. Retrieved June 20, 2014.
- Luke McKenna (January 6, 2012). "The Fabulous Life Of Secretive Investor, Peter Ackerman". Business Insider. Retrieved April 23, 2014.
- "Executive Profile - Peter Ackerman Ph.D.". Business Week.
- "Internet Picks Presidential Candidate If Ackerman Gets His Way". Bloomberg.
- "Unfinished business. (Drexel Burnham Lambert)". The Economist. January 14, 1989. Retrieved April 23, 2014.
- "Founder of Americans Elect Used Tax Shelter Scheme". California Watch.
- Robert J. McCartne and Susan Schmidt (March 7, 1992). "FDIC Fears of Leniency for Milken Brother Delay Accord". The Washington Post. Retrieved April 23, 2014.
- "BIZWATCH : MARKETS". Daily News. June 25, 1996. Retrieved April 23, 2014.
- Steve Mistler (January 21, 2014). "State House Notebook: Will Americans Elect be a savior for Cutler? ; Campaign finance disclosures reveal connections that suggest the independent candidate could get a boost from the well-heeled group". Portland Press Herald. Retrieved April 23, 2014.
- Rebecca Robinson (November 10, 2011). "THE CLICKSTER PARTY". Monterey County Weekly. Retrieved April 23, 2014.
- "Dr. Peter Ackerman Becomes New Chairman of Freedom House". Freedom House. 2005-09-08. Archived from the original on 2010-10-12. Retrieved 2010-10-12.
- "Freedom House Welcomes William H. Taft IV as New Chairman". Freedom House. 2009-01-08. Archived from the original on 2010-10-12. Retrieved 2010-10-12.
- Chris Cillizza (July 25, 2011). "Anger at Washington revives third-party push". The Washington Post. Retrieved April 23, 2014.
- "Bloomberg among Americans Elect funders in Maine". Politico.
- "New group paves way for alternative 2012 choice". CNN. "Funding for the effort was kicked off with over $5 million from investment banker Peter Ackerman."
- "Americans Elect and the death of the third party movement". Washington Post.
- "Who We Are". Americans Elect.
- "A Statement From Americans Elect". Americans Elect.