Peter Ackerman

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Peter Ackerman (born November 6, 1946) is the founder and chairman of Americans Elect, the International Center on Nonviolent Conflict [1] and the managing director of Rockport Capital Incorporated. He chaired the board of trustees of Freedom House from September 2005 until January 2009.[2][3] He is a member of the Board of the Council on Foreign Relations.[1]

He was born in New York City, New York. As an undergraduate he attended Colgate University. After he graduated from Colgate, he attended the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University where in he earned a Ph.D. in 1976 in International Relations, studying under Gene Sharp and Robert Pfaltzgraff.[4] Dr. 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.

From 1978 to 1990, Ackerman was Director of International Capital Markets at investment bank Drexel Burnham Lambert until its bankruptcy.[5] 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.[6] While criminal charges were never brought against Ackerman in Drexel's insider trading scandal, he paid a $73 million settlement in a civil case brought against him by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation and the Resolution Trust Corporation alleging misappropriation and diversion of investments.[7]

Ackerman's financial dealings have brought him into public conflict with state and Federal tax authorities on several occasions. In 2003 Ackerman sued the California Franchise Tax Board to recover $5 million in taxes previously paid. He lost the case on appeal.[7] In 2005 a bill was introduced in the California legislature (with the aid of Ackerman's attorney) which a Senate Revenue and Taxation Committee analysis noted appeared to solely benefit Ackerman, at a potential cost of $5 million to the state.[7] In 2005 the United States Tax Court ruled that Ackerman was involved in an illegal $1.7 billion tax shelter which, according to the Court, "had no economic substance, its only purpose being to transfer built-in tax losses....passed through for the primary benefit of Mr. Ackerman.”[7] The IRS determined that Ackerman owed $150 million in taxes. He resolved this dispute in June, 2011 in an undisclosed settlement.[7] Another tax court ruling in 2009 found that he owed an additional $2.6 million and that his testimony in that case was not credible.[7]

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 political advertising, in the name of Ackerman's tax-exempt Americans Elect organization, supporting the Senate campaign of Maine governor Angus King.[8] The Republican Party of Maine in turn filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission claiming that this constituted illegal coordinated spending practices.[9]

In 1990 Dr. Ackerman moved to London where he was a visiting scholar at the International Institute for Strategic Studies. During this time he co-authored with Christopher Kruegler the book Strategic Nonviolent Conflict.[10] Dr. Ackerman was also a content advisor in the television version of Steve York's 1999 film A Force More Powerful: A Century of Nonviolent Conflict and co-authored with Jack DuVall a book of the same title. In 2002 Dr. Ackerman also helped produce the documentary Bringing Down A Dictator, the sequel to A Force More Powerful, which chronicled the fall of Serbian leader Slobodan Milosevic by nonviolent means. In 2005 he became a director of the Institute for Strategic Studies' IISS-US office.[11]

Dr. Ackerman contributed the initial $5 million seed money to Americans Elect,[12] a failed 2012 third-party Presidential nomination initiative,[13] and serves as Chairman of its Board of Directors.[14] Ackerman's son, Elliot, serves as Chief Operating Officer of Americans Elect.[14] 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."[15]

External links[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Peter Ackerman - Founding Chair". International Center on Nonviolent Conflict. 2009. Archived from the original on 2010-10-12. Retrieved 2010-10-12. 
  2. ^ "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. 
  3. ^ "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. 
  4. ^ "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" 
  5. ^ "Executive Profile - Peter Ackerman Ph.D.". Business Week. 
  6. ^ "Internet Picks Presidential Candidate If Ackerman Gets His Way". Bloomberg. 
  7. ^ a b c d e f "Founder of Americans Elect Used Tax Shelter Scheme". California Watch. 
  8. ^ "Bloomberg among Americans Elect funders in Maine". Politico. 
  9. ^ "Complaint Against Angus King, Angus King For Senate, Eliot Cutler, and Americans Elect.". Scribd. 
  10. ^ "Social Security Choice - Project Board". Cato Institute. 
  11. ^ "2005 Spring newsletter". IISS. "The current Directors are now: Dr Peter Ackerman, Ambassador Richard Burt, Dr John Chipman, Michael Draeger" 
  12. ^ "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." 
  13. ^ "Americans Elect and the death of the third party movement". Washington Post. 
  14. ^ a b "Who We Are". Americans Elect. 
  15. ^ "A Statement From Americans Elect". Americans Elect.