The political reform movement Americans Elect has chosen an odd way to go about opening up the presidential nomination process to disaffected voters: Instead of being transparent in all of its activities, the group that plans to put an Internet-selected ticket on the ballot in all 50 states won’t say where it gets its money.

That lack of transparency raises questions about whether the group is trying to disrupt the process rather than reform it, and whether it may be trying to skew the election results in a way that favors one of the two major candidates in November.

The nonpartisan nonprofit group has pledged to run an online process in which people can draft, discuss and vote for candidates, eventually resulting in the selection of a ticket at a virtual “convention” in June.

Americans Elect supporters in Maine announced that they had gathered 64,000 signatures, more than enough to get on the Maine ballot in November. Eliot Cutler, who narrowly lost his independent bid for governor in 2010, is a national board member of Americans Elect.

Cutler said he backs the group because he believes in political reform, but Americans Elect’s secrecy around the identity of its donors sounds more like a step backward than progress. It may be true, as the organization says on its website, that Americans are sick of politics as usual, but, at least in Maine, they are not sick of disclosure requirements that tell them who is behind the candidates who run for office.

As a nonprofit, Americans Elect does not fit under existing campaign finance laws. According to its website, it neither takes money from candidates nor give money to them. It is positioned so squarely in the middle of the electoral process, however, that those are technicalities, not justifications for anonymity.

Cutler’s explanation is even less persuasive: He says donors don’t want to be known because they fear retribution by the political parties.

People may not like partisanship but we are not talking about crime families here. The major parties are accountable organizations that have to disclose where their money comes from, and so should a new rival, no matter how its corporate papers are drawn up.

Rep. Les Fossell, R-Alna, has sponsored a bill that would require Americans Elect to reveal its source of funding. This is one bill that should have no trouble getting bipartisan support.

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