“Change the Rule” would rig debate rules against ballot-qualified third parties

Former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr., former CIA director Gen. Michael Hayden, former Sens. Bob Kerrey and Joe Lieberman, former Gov. Christine Todd Whitman and retired Gen. Stanley McChrystal are all among the 50 high-profile signatories of Change The Rule’s open letter to the Commission on Presidential Debates. They are advocating the inclusion of a qualified third candidate in the debates. Change the Rule is a project of Level the Playing Field, a successor effort to Americans Elect which is also funded by billionaire Peter Ackerman.

Like the Our America Initiative lawsuit against the CPD from Gary Johnson, Jill Stein, and the Libertarian and Green Parties, CTR says the current process is rigged against the inclusion of a third candidate, unfairly dominated by Republicans and Democrats, and that the starting point should be which candidates have secured ballot access in enough states to represent a possible winning majority of 270 Electoral College votes. Four candidates- Barack Obama, Mitt Romney, Gary Johnson, and Jill Stein- met that threshold in 2012.

Unlike the Our America Initiative lawsuit however, Change the Rule would not include all such candidates in the debate. Instead they propose to include only a single independent or third-party candidate, based on which one gathered the most petition signatures in their ballot access drive. This is a rule which would effectively guarantee the inclusion of the weakest alternative candidate who is on the fewest ballots, among those who make it over the 270+ EV threshold. It would severely handicap existing parties like the Libertarians and Greens for having performed too well in previous elections.

Take a hypothetical 2016 scenario: the Libertarian nominee is on the ballot in all 50 states, and is performing better in fundraising and polling than any other alternative candidate. The Green nominee is on the ballot in 39 states, and isn’t doing as well as the Libertarian but seems poised for a solid 4th place finish in the popular vote. A wealthy Independent candidate is failing to get much traction, and isn’t showing up in any polls outside the margin of error. However, with a mostly self-funded effort, our Independent manages to secure ballot access in 25 states, barely crossing the threshold of 270 Electoral Votes, but still not on the ballot in the other 25 states comprising a majority of the population.

The obvious choice, if only one of the three candidates is to be allowed to debate, would be the candidate on the most ballots, whose campaign has the most support, and whose party placed third in the previous election. In this case that would be the Libertarian. That seems obvious, right?

In this scenario, however, the Libertarian didn’t have to petition in 30 states. The Greens didn’t have to petition in 21 states. That’s because they already have automatic ballot access in those states, and couldn’t petition there even if they wanted to. That’s something they’ve earned, just like the Republicans and Democrats, by getting enough votes for their nominees in previous elections, or maintaining a sufficient number of registered members.

In contrast our 5th-place Independent candidate petitioned onto all 25 of his states, more than the 20 states the Libertarian completed petitions in, and more than the 18 states the Greens successfully petitioned in. In doing so, he gathered more signatures, and so he would be the third candidate included in the debate, despite the fact that half of voters won’t see his name on the ballot and the two other excluded candidates have more support.

Change the Rule’s system, if adopted, would mean the inclusion of a third candidate in the debate. But the process of selecting that candidate, would be even more blatantly rigged against existing third-parties than the current rule (a 15% polling threshold).

Read more at Politico: http://www.politico.com/story/2015/03/new-group-targets-commission-on-presidential-debates-116173.html#ixzz3UlPaGPNE

82 thoughts on ““Change the Rule” would rig debate rules against ballot-qualified third parties

  1. Richard Winger

    Andy is right, the specific proposal is flawed. Nevertheless the FEC is perfectly free to be influenced by the group’s complaint, and yet fashion relief that is different than what Level the Playing Field is asking for.

  2. Joseph Buchman

    Drudge “broke” this story yesterday with a front page link to:

    http://thehill.com/homenews/campaign/236046-adding-independent-voices-to-the-debate

    Only FOUR MONTHS after it was first published here on IPR

    https://independentpoliticalreport.com/2014/11/public-comment-sought-in-fec-petition-to-force-cpd-to-include-one-more-candidate-in-presidential-debates/

    And this from Richard last December:

    http://ballot-access.org/2014/12/18/level-the-playing-field-the-organization-that-is-working-for-better-presidential-debates-is-the-successor-of-americans-elect/

    Also here:

    https://independentpoliticalreport.com/2014/12/level-the-playing-field-the-organization-that-is-working-for-better-presidential-debates-is-the-successor-of-americans-elect/

    I find two elements of the Hill.com article of special interest to Third Parties. First THIS quote:

    “A bipartisan group of more than 40 current and former elected officials,”

    Were Third Parties eliminated from their efforts? Why not partner with the LNC, Green, and other parties in this effort?

    Secondly:

    “Among the signatories are Sen. Angus King (I-Maine); William Webster, the chairman of the Homeland Security Advisory Council and former FBI director Michael Hayden, a retired four-star general and former director of the National Security Agency; former Defense Secretary William Cohen; and David Bradley, the publisher of The Atlantic and National Journal. The list also includes former Govs. Bruce Babbitt (D-Ariz.), Jon Huntsman (R-Utah), Thomas Keane (R-N.J.), and Christine Todd Whitman (R-N.J.), former Sens. Bob Kerrey (D-Neb.), and Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.), and former Reps. John Anderson (R-Ill.), Lee Hamilton (D-Ind.), Christopher Shays (R-Conn.), and Vin Weber (R-Minn.).”

    Glad to see Senator King and former Senator Liberman listed as an INDEPENDENT (so this is more than a “BI” partisan effort after all). That said, the list of Governors seems to be missing one from New Mexico. I have not yet found the original letter from which thehill.com is quoting. Perhaps Governor Johnson is listed there but if not was it because CTR excluded him or was this a missed opportunity or perhaps a strategic decision given OAI’s efforts to pursue their now “million dollar lawsuit” against the CPD independently?

  3. Andy Craig Post author

    I do wonder if it was a deliberate way to tip the scales in favor of an AE-style centrist-independent-type candidate over existing third parties (that seems to be the ideological orientation of the signers and backers), or if they were just honestly ignorant enough of the ballot access process to think all non-D/R candidates start with the same start-from-scratch ballot access situation in all states.

    Their website is fuzzy on the details, saying on the one hand that it would be a fair “national signature competition” among all the alt-candidates,but also saying that process would be based off of state ballot access laws and petitions. Which means a party would punished in direct proportion to how many states it has automatic ballot access in, and also that candidates would be punished for prioritizing ballot access in the easier, lower-petition-threshold states.

    You do raise a good point that this detail could be fine-tuned in the final proposal, either by the FEC or the CPD themselves. An easy enough tweak in the same spirit would grant inclusion to the candidate on the ballot in the most states, or the states representing the larger population or the most EVs. Then the only possible tie would be if four candidates get on the ballot in all 50 states, or if the two top alt-candidates are missing the exact same states, and when was the last time that happened? Ever?

    Of course, this is all premised on the supposed need to winnow inclusion down from four or five candidates to just three, which I don’t buy at all.

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  5. Richard Winger

    The only elections (since ballot access laws have existed) in which four presidential candidates were on in all states were 1980, 1992, and 1996. 1892 would have been another example except the Prohibition Party didn’t get on in South Dakota because it turned in its paperwork a day too late.

  6. Andy

    “Andy Craig Post author

    March 18, 2015 at 2:47 pm

    Neither Johnson nor Stein are among the signatories.”

    I would urge them to not sign it. This is obviously another attempt to create a “fake” “third party” or “independent” candidate that is really just another establishment shill, and “they” want to give this “shill” a means to get in the debates with the other establishment candidates, and then shut out all of the real minor party and independent candidates, as in the ones who are not a part of the establishment.

  7. Joseph Buchman

    In the public comments (available on the FEC website at: http://sers.fec.gov/fosers (they do not appear to provide a direct link to each comment — search for CPD or by name) Nicholas Sarwark wrote:

    “The Libertarian Party agrees with many of the assertions in the petition submitted by Level the Playing Field requesting revision and amendment of the FEC’s regulations governing the candidate inclusion criteria that corporations and broadcasters must use when sponsoring candidate debates in order for such debates to be in compliance with federal election law.

    “At the same time, the Libertarian Party is a staunch defender of the rights guaranteed by the First Amendment, in particular, freedom of speech and freedom of the press, and therefore opposes regulations on either individuals or media organizations that violate those rights.

    “However, where such regulations restricting free speech exist, they should be applied fairly and in a way that doesn’t create a preference for any particular party or candidate. The existing regulation allows organizations to use the thin veneer of polling criteria to unfairly benefit the Republican and Democratic parties and the candidates of those parties. This proposed rulemaking petition is an improvement over the current FEC regulation because it would prevent debate sponsors that receive special privileges and subsidies from the government from setting arbitrary polling criteria to exclude specific candidates from debates.

    “Comments provided by :

    “Sarwark, Nicholas “

  8. Joseph Buchman

    Ron Nielson’s public comments on behalf of OAI —

    Fri Dec 12 16:05:42 EST 2014

    Comments of Ron Nielson Senior Advisor on behalf of Our America Initiative, Inc. (801) 662-9601 http://www.ouramericainitiative.com; info@ouramericainitiative.com on the Regulations Regarding Criteria Governing the Inclusion of Candidates in Presidential and Vice-Presidential Candidate Debates Introduction The Our America Initiative, Inc. (hereinafter “OAI”) submits these Comments to the Federal Election Commission (“FEC” or “Commission”) in response to the FEC’s Rulemaking Petition: Candidate Debates, published in the Federal Register (Vol. 79, No. 220) on November 14, 2014. Our America Initiative The Our America Initiative is a nonpartisan, 501(c)4 advocacy organization whose purpose is to encourage policies that protect civil liberties, support free enterprise and limit the size and scope of government.

    Summary

    “OAI strongly supports the petition submitted by Level the Playing Field requesting revision and amendment of the FEC’s regulations governing the candidate inclusion criteria corporations and broadcasters must use when sponsoring candidate debates in order for such debates to be in compliance with federal election law.”

    Comments

    “The Petition for Rulemaking submitted by Level the Playing Field essentially makes one straightforward, but critical, request of the Commission: That sponsors of debates permitted under federal campaign law be precluded from using a polling threshold to determine whether or not candidates for president and vice-president can participate in those debates. In public statements and communications with not only the Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD), but also numerous major media outlets, OAI has repeatedly made precisely the same request — to no avail. Likewise, in making the argument that using polling thresholds is inherently subjective and, in practical effect, partisan, OAI has and continues to raise many of the same points and realities that the Petition presents very effectively. Thus, OAI strongly endorses not only the Petition, but the arguments therein. Rather than restate the excellent arguments contained in the Petition, these comments will simply reinforce them and offer some additional points for the Commission’s consideration.

    First, an argument can be made that, based on history and in the case of the CPD, the requirement that a candidate achieve a certain threshold in selected public opinion polls is clearly more than a benign effort to limit participation in nationally-televised debates to “viable” candidates. The Commission need look no farther than the statements of the Chairmen of the Republican and Democratic National Committees upon the creation of the CPD to see that these partisans fully intended that participation in the CPD debates would be limited to the respective nominees of their parties. As reported in the New York Times on February 19, 1987, in an article entitled “DEMOCRATS AND REPUBLICANS FORM PANEL TO HOLD PRESIDENTIAL DEBATES” (emphasis added): “In response to questions, Mr. Fahrenkopf indicated that the new Commission on Presidential Debates, a nonprofit group made up of representatives from each party, was not likely to look with favor on including third-party candidates in the debates. He said the issue was a matter for the commission to consider when it worked out the format, timing and other details of the debates with the candidates. Mr. Kirk was less equivocal, saying he personally believed the panel should exclude third-party candidates from the debates. But he said he could not speak for the commission.” In 1992, Ross Perot was included in the debates, but only because George Bush demanded he be included. Otherwise, Perot would have been excluded. See George Farah, No Debate – How the Republican and Democratic Parties Secretly Control the Presidential Debates (Seven Stories Press 2004), p. 53.”

    “The simple reality that the principals in the creation of the CPD unapologetically expressed their preference that such candidates would NOT be included, and that those in control of the debates ever since have sought to exclude “third party” or independent candidates, belies the existence of objectivity and nonpartisanship that should be required by the Commission in allowing corporate funding of debates. Given the clear lack of objectivity and intention to exclude any but Republican and Democratic candidates, dating to the very creation of the CPD, it is unacceptable that the CPD be allowed to include participation criteria that are subject to manipulation, especially when those criteria can be altered from one election cycle to the next. For example, under the current practice by the CPD of establishing a numeric polling threshold, most recently 15%, what is to prevent the CPD — if faced with a third party candidate who appears to be approaching 15% — from simply raising the threshold to 18% or 20% or whatever necessary to insure that only the Democrat and Republican nominees will be included?
    Likewise, the subjectivity of a polling threshold is compounded by the fact that the CPD not only selects the threshold, but also the polls that will be considered in the calculation, some of which may not even include other candidates. In short, by employing a polling threshold, the CPD creates for itself ample opportunity to manipulate the outcome of its inclusion criteria. Such opportunity simply should not exist if the debates are to be treated by the Commission as nonpartisan, voter “education” activities — and funded with corporate dollars. The Petition before the Commission lays out in great detail and with significant documentation the “damage” that is done to independent or third party candidates by exclusion from the CPD-sponsored presidential and vice-presidential debates. However, it should be additionally noted that this harm is compounded by the widely-reported practice by the Democratic and Republican nominees of agreeing NOT to participate in any debates during the general election campaign other than those sponsored by the CPD. For example, in 2004, the Bush and Kerry campaigns reportedly negotiated a contract requiring, among other things: “The parties agree that they will not (1) issue any challenges for additional debates, (2) appear at any other debate or adversarial forum with any other presidential or vice presidential candidate, or (3) accept any television or radio air time offers that involve a debate format or otherwise involve the simultaneous appearance of more than one candidate.”

    “The practical effect of such agreements, presumably encouraged by the CPD and the two “major” parties, is to preclude the possibility that debates sponsored by any other organizations will garner widespread media coverage and the resulting opportunity of voters to see other candidates on a debate stage. It is a simple reality that major television networks, for example, are highly unlikely to devote prime time coverage to any debate that does NOT include the Democrat and Republican nominees. If the Commission recognizes the almost incalculable monetary value of the exposure a candidate gains from a prime time nationally-televised debate, the CPD’s exclusionary participation criteria and the practice by the two major parties of agreeing to participate ONLY in CPD-sponsored events combine to create a massive and clearly unfair financial contribution to the major party campaigns that is not available to other candidates. These are only a few of the consequences of a debate “system” that can reasonably be described as “rigged” for the benefit of the Democrat and Republican nominees — and fatally costly to other qualified candidates.”

    “As presented by the Petition, the result is unfair advantage to some at the considerable expense of others. At a time when record numbers of American voters, based on polling data, do not view either of the two “major” parties as representative of their views, an FEC-sanctioned debate program that clearly and, OAI would suggest, intentionally limits participation to the candidates of those two parties is simply not consistent with the notion of election laws that are nonpartisan and fair.”

    “Finally, in response to the well-worn argument that some measure of candidate viability is necessary in order to present meaningful debates, it must be noted that such criteria are not only available, but obvious. Recognizing that the FEC may be appropriately hesitant to mandate specific criteria, OAI proposes an alternative that would negate virtually every concern that is used to justify the CPD’s use of polling criteria. That alternative, mentioned in the Petition, is simple — and entirely insulated from manipulation: Any candidate who 1) meets the constitutional requirements to serve and 2) has qualified for enough states’ ballots to achieve a majority in the Electoral College should be invited to participate.
    Given the fact that it is actually extremely difficult in many states for a third party or independent candidate to quality for the ballot, these simple criteria would — in a perfectly just manner — limit debate participation to serious candidates with a significant level of demonstrated support. The financial and organizational support necessary to achieve that level of ballot access should, by any fair measure, merit inclusion in any debate sanctioned by federal election law. Beyond those requirements, it should be the voters — not the FEC nor the CPD — who decide who is viable and who is not. In 2012, applying a ballot qualification threshold would have narrowed a field of dozens of declared presidential candidates to only four candidates who could possibly be elected in the Electoral College. The idea that it is somehow necessary, much less fair, to further “pre-select” the field by imposing an arbitrary polling threshold is simply not supportable in a legal and regulatory framework that should be blind to party affiliation and devoid of manipulation.”

  9. Joseph Buchman

    More of the Public comments from http://sers.fec.gov/fosers/

    December 12, 2014
    Federal Election Commission
    999 E Street NW Washington, DC 20463
    Re: Petition for Rulemaking from Level the Playing Field to Revise and Amend 11 C.F.R. § 110.13(c)

    To the members of the Federal Election Commission,

    This comment is submitted by Professors Larry Diamond and David King. Professor Diamond is Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, and founding co-editor of the Journal of Democracy. Professor Diamond teaches political science and sociology at Stanford and is Director of the Center on Democracy, Development, and the Rule of Law (CDDRL), within the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies. A copy of Professor Diamond’s curriculum vitae is attached as Exhibit A. Professor King is Senior Lecturer in Public Policy and Faculty Chair of the Masters in Public Administration programs at The Harvard Kennedy School. Professor King chairs Harvard’s Bi-Partisan Program for Newly Elected Members of the U.S. Congress, and he directs the Executive Program for Senior Executives in State and Local Government. A copy of Professor King’s curriculum vitae is attached as Exhibit B.
    We write in support of Level the Playing Field’s petition for rulemaking (“Petition”) seeking to preclude sponsors of general election presidential and vice presidential debates from requiring that a candidate meet a polling threshold in order to be included in the debate. The use of polling to determine debate access ensures that third-party and independent candidates will almost always be excluded from the debates. Not even Ross Perot, the most successful third party presidential candidate in the last century, would have qualified for the debates in 1992 under the polling threshold currently in place.1

    Given the significance of the presidential debates to our democracy, and to the outcome of our presidential elections, this exclusionary use of polling thresholds is untenable. Debate sponsoring organizations should not be permitted to determine access to the debates using a polling criterion because such polls are not appropriate measures of viability and these polls systematically discriminate against non-major-party candidates. The debates are the most watched campaign events, and the only campaign events in which the candidates appear on the same stage and must present their message in a neutral forum in an actual dialogue. They are vital for the candidates and for our democracy.

    First, the debates are an essential source of voter knowledge about the candidates. Although the campaign season is long, many voters do not pay much attention until the debates. The debates provide a direct format and unsurpassed audience for candidates to present their message to the public.

    Second, the debates provide a unique opportunity for the voters to compare the choices for President head-to-head. The debaters are vying for the most important office in the country, and the 1 See Petition at 16 & n.50. 2 debates give voters the opportunity to see the contenders side-by-side and measure whether they have the gravitas to be president and which is the better choice.

    Third, the debates play an instrumental role in setting the political agenda. Candidates can call attention to important issues and, even if they do not win, they can galvanize public demand for action. Ross Perot’s candidacy in 1992 is a prime example: he was able to make deficit reduction a central issue in the campaign, and it in turn became a central issue for the Clinton administration. The debates should also be about presenting American voters with the voices they want to hear. Unfortunately, that is not happening. The evidence is clear that the American people want an alternative to the Democratic and Republican parties: Sixty-two percent of Americans do not think the federal government has the consent of the governed,2 86% feel the political system is broken and does not serve the interests of the American people, and 65% want the option to vote for an independent candidate in a U.S. presidential election.3
    The Commission on Presidential Debates (“CPD”) is preventing the American people from hearing from that independent choice. A serious competitor for the presidency must be in the general election debates. The CPD determines who gets in. By law, the CPD must make that determination with an objective, nonpartisan rule. The CPD’s existing rule fails to meet that standard. Its rule is designed to exclude anyone other than the Republican and Democratic nominees from the debates. Knowing that they have no chance to get into the debates because of the CPD’s skewed and partisan rule, men and women with extraordinary records of service to this country choose not to run for President. And, as a result, our country is denied the opportunity for new, qualified, and independent leadership. The CPD achieves this exclusion by only inviting a candidate to participate in the presidential debates if he or she is at 15% or higher in mid-September opinion polls. That requirement may appear reasonable at first glance, but since World War II, only candidates who have participated in major party primaries would have surpassed the CPD’s mid-September 15% threshold; no unaffiliated candidate would have qualified.4 It is clear that the rule is an insuperable barrier for a candidate without a D or R next to his or her name. One might expect candidates to have 15% support by mid-September because the primaries and conventions are over by then.
    One problem with that thinking is that the pre-September events of the presidential campaign focus only on the major party nominees. The media lavish attention on the Democratic and Republican nominees as it covers months of primaries, the manufactured suspense of the vice presidential selection process, and the party infomercials known as conventions. When all is said and done, the Republican and Democratic nominees have garnered an incalculable amount of free media to build popular support. The landscape is very different for an independent candidate. Participation in the general election debates is essential for any candidate to compete. But there is no realistic way for a candidate who is not affiliated with the two major parties to reach 15% in the polls by mid-September: the candidate will not have the same access as a Democrat or Republican to an 2 68% Think Election Rules Rigged for Incumbents, Rasmussen (July 13, 2014), http://www.rasmussenreports.com /public_content/politics/general_politics/july_2014/68_think_election_rules_rigged_for_incumbents. 3 Douglas E. Schoen, Independents and the Presidential Debate System at 9, 53 (Aug. 29, 2014), attached as Exhibit 2 to Petition. 4 See Petition at 15-16. 3 abundance of free media to boost his or her standing.

    Without a high profile primary process or a guaranteed spot in the debates, the candidate can expect little press coverage. That means the candidate has to rely on paid media to garner name recognition and get his or her message to the voters. Any credible campaign consultant will advise the candidate that the cost of running a campaign that could achieve that name recognition through paid media would be in the ballpark of $250 million.5 To put that amount in perspective: No third-party or independent candidate has ever come close to raising that kind of money.

    Even major party candidates, like John McCain and Barack Obama, did not raise that level of money before they became household names with the free media built into the primary process. Simply put, the amount of money required to obtain the name recognition necessary to poll at the 15% level is an insurmountable barrier for nonmajor party candidates. It is effectively an onerous tax on third-party and independent contenders that is designed to prevent them from competing. Even if it were possible for anyone other than a self-funded billionaire to amass these vast resources, it could be for nothing. The error-prone and arbitrary 15% threshold could still shut a qualified and otherwise viable candidate out of the debates. Polls are simply not reliable indicators of a candidate’s potential support among voters; polls are often wildly inaccurate. The recent midterm elections highlight this point. Polling firms failed to predict low Election Day turnout by typical Democratic voters.6

    As a result, in state after state, polls were abysmal predictors of the final results. In Kansas, for instance, pre-election polls on average showed Greg Orman with a 7.2% lead two months before the election, and a 0.8% lead going into Election Day; he lost by 10.8%.7 In Virginia, pre-election polls showed Mark Warner with a lead of 15% two months out, and a lead of 10.2% in the final polls. Yet Warner won by a mere 0.8% margin.8 This kind of inaccuracy is nothing new. It is a recurring problem. Polls have been badly skewed in one direction or the other in the 1994, 1998, 2002, 2006, and 2012 elections.9 Polling in three-way races is particularly inaccurate. In three-way races, polls taken two months before the election are, on average, 8% off. This inaccuracy systematically disfavors third-party and independent challengers. As explained in the Petition, in the case of the 15% polling threshold that the CPD employs, a candidate with support at or just above the threshold can be up to 1000 times more likely to face exclusion from the debates as a result of polling inaccuracy than a candidate polling at or above 40%. Because a third-party or independent candidate is much more likely to be closer to the 15% threshold, the risks of polling inaccuracy fall overwhelmingly on them, and not on major-party candidates.10 5 See id. at 9-15. 6 See Sam Wang, The Polls Failed To Predict A Republican Landslide. Here’s Why., The New Republic (Nov. 5, 2014), http://www.newrepublic.com/article/120147/2014-midterm-predictions-poll-aggregators-hit-midterm-curse; Barnini Chakraborty, Election results looked nothing like the polls — what gives?, FoxNews.com (Nov. 7, 2014), http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2014/11/07/pollsters-miss-predictions-in-key-races/. 7 See Level the Playing Field’s Comment in Support of Petition, submitted Dec. 2, 2014. 8 See id. 9 See Nate Silver, The Polls Were Skewed Toward Democrats, FiveThirtyEight.com (Nov. 5, 2014, 9:08 a.m.),
    http://fivethirtyeight.com/features/the-polls-were-skewed-toward-democrats/. 10 See Petition at 17-20; Expert Report of Dr. Clifford Young, dated Sept. 5, 2014, at ¶¶ 52-71, attached as Exhibit 3 to Petition. 4

    Finally, the timing of polling used by the CPD also favors major party candidates at the expense of independent and third-party candidates. The CPD determines whether candidates meet its 15% threshold in mid-September of the election year. Republican and Democratic candidates can rely on hardcore partisan support to be sure that they will never fall below that threshold, and thus they are sure of their participation in the debates from the moment they win their parties’ respective nominations. In contrast, a third-party or independent candidate must campaign for months under uncertainty as to whether he or she will have access to the debates. This uncertainty creates a vicious circle that prevents independent candidates from fairly competing for the right to participate in the debates, not to mention mounting a viable campaign for the presidency: without guaranteed access to the debates, the media is much less likely to cover the candidate, which inhibits the candidate’s ability to raise money and build support…which makes it impossible to qualify for the debates. Moreover, given that participation in the debates is a prerequisite to victory, many prospective donors will not contribute to a candidate who has not yet qualified for the debates.

    Thus, the uncertainty resulting from the timing of the polling determination creates another harm that befalls only third-party and independent candidates.11 In short, the CPD’s rule requires a third-party or independent candidate to commit to raising and spending an unprecedented and unreasonable sum just for the chance to satisfy an error-prone and arbitrary test. Credible unaffiliated candidates will not run for President if they do not have a realistic shot of being in the debates. In the face of the CPD’s unfair rule, credible unaffiliated candidates will not run. The FEC can help solve this problem by eliminating the reliance on polling thresholds like the one the CPD uses. This simple rule change will insure the level playing field that the FEC’s debate regulations were meant to foster. We therefore respectfully urge the FEC to grant the petition for rulemaking and help fix the broken debate system.

  10. Joseph Buchman

    From the LP Kentucky . . . (as posted in the public comments on the FEC site):

    “For the General Election, any candidate who has acheived (sic) ballot access in enough states to be eligible to win 270 Electoral Votes should be included in candidate debates. If a voting threshold must be in place, that threshold should be very low to allow voters to decide who they support.

    If debate organizers are not to be required to include all candidates who have been ballot-qualified in enough states, then they should be required to list the name and party affiliation of candidates who are not invited to participate. This list should be given at both the beginning and end of the program, in a manner that those watching would reasonably be able to know that other candidates exist but were not invited to participate. Such a list should include information on where to find more information about excluded candidates at the end of the debate, and the list should be required to be included in all subsequent showings of the debate.
    It is generally in the interest of preventing the defrauding of the public to ensure the sponsoring organization (often a joint-venture of the political parties of only two candidates) are properly informing the public of their choices. Far too often, debate organizers use the phrase “the candidates” when actually referring to “the invited candidates”, inferring that there are no other candidates than the ones in the debate. This is a bias of omission, which gives specific support to the invited candidates, and harms the candidates who are not invited. This type of bias by omission should be treated as an illegal campaign contribution to the invited candidates by the sponsoring organization(s).

    While the FEC is generally not concerned with public policy, including additional candidates in debates is beneficial to the public. In my political experience, debates with only two candidates tend to devolve into back-and-forth accusation. By contrast, debates which contain three or more candidates tend to focus on issues, enhancing public discourse.
    It is not an unreasonable burden to create this requirement. Debate sponsors will still cover the cost of the debates. As there are generally multiple debates, it is obvious that time can be extended, if necessary, to allow for additional participation by others in a debate.
    At a minimum, most debates are 60 minutes in length. Adding a requirement to notice the public of the list of candidates not invited to appear would take approximately 1/60th of the debate time, or 1.66% of the total program length. Certainly that is not an unreasonable burden.

    It is within the mandate of the FEC to ensure that elections are fair and clean, for the expressed purpose of protecting the voting rights of the public. Ensuring that debate organizers properly inform the public is within the scope of the FEC and helps achieve the mandate to ensure clean and fair elections. The modification of these rules will not cause harm to the public. Information cannot harm the electoral process, it can only make voters better informed.
    Inclusion in the debate process is critical for the success of any campaign. There are a number of examples where this is the case, but perhaps none more clear than the 1998 Gubernatorial Election in Minnesota. In that race, Ventura’s inclusion in candidate debates increased his support from 10% to (a winning) 37% only 4 weeks. Mr. Ventura himself credited his success to inclusion in the debates. “I was allowed to debate.

    I proved that you could go from 10 percent to 37 percent and win if you’re allowed to debate.” In the interest of fairness in elections, I urge the FEC to adopt rules to prevent debate organizers from manipulating the electoral process through extreme omission.

    Thank you for your consideration.

    Kenneth C. Moellman, Jr.
    State Executive Committee Chair
    The Libertarian Party of Kentucky

  11. Andy Craig Post author

    The FEC petition is just about why the current CPD practice should be ruled illegal, it doesn’t include any specific replacement plan, much less a plan that only allows one additional candidate with that candidate being determined by ballot access petition numbers. That’s only in “the Letter” and their public pitch for the effort. So Sarwark’s and OAI’s support for the petition, isn’t indicating support for this idea::

    “One possible rule change could keep the existing 15% polling requirement as one way to qualify for the debates, but add the following, alternative means: On April 30 before a November presidential election, any candidate, party, or nominating process with ballot access in states that collectively have at least 270 Electoral College votes would notify the CPD of that access. If there is more than one, then whoever has gathered the most signatures as part of the ballot access process will participate in the debates with the Democratic and Republican nominees.

    We believe that the competition under such a rule would be vigorous, enabling, and a legitimate third candidate would emerge. We estimate that the winner of the signature competition will need to collect some 4 to 6 million signatures, obtained from a broad cross section of Americans – a clear demonstration of popular appeal. The cost and scale of that endeavor would not be insurmountable, but it is substantial enough to ensure that only someone with significant fundraising and operational capacity and public support could win. This signature drive competition – which is not unlike the early state primaries – provides one objective, fair, and measurable way to qualify for debate access.”

    http://www.changetherule.org/the-letter/

  12. Joseph Buchman

    Likewise from http://sers.fec.gov/fosers/

    The League of Women Voters has a long history and much experience in conducting candidate debates at all levels of elected office, including those for president and vice president. As such, we have a continuing interest in ensuring that such debates, including those sponsored by other organizations, are conducted in a fashion that provides the most amount of useful information to voters about candidates who seek to represent them. We believe it is beneficial to review policies and procedures related to the conduct of candidate debates to determine if changes are needed to ensure that legitimate candidates are enabled to present their views to the public in a manner that is fair to the candidates and useful to the viewing public.
    Consequently, the League supports the petitioner’s request that the Federal Election Commission (FEC) open a rulemaking on its regulation concerning the criteria governing the inclusion of candidates in presidential and vice presidential candidate debates.

    However, the League does not support amending the FEC regulation to preclude sponsors of general election presidential and vice presidential debates from requiring that a candidate meet a polling threshold in order to be included in the debate. (1)

    In fact, we believe that polling data is a legitimate indicator in determining debate
    eligibility. Based upon our reading of the petition submitted to the FEC, however, it is our understanding that this is not the intent of the petitioner either. Page 23 of the petition states:

    Petitioner does not oppose using debate selection criteria that take into account
    viability of a contender in the general presidential election. The sheer number of
    declared candidates for president requires some limiting principles to govern debate
    access. Petitioner does not even oppose a debate sponsor allowing candidates to
    participate if they meet a polling threshold, so long as the sponsor provides an
    alternative avenue for gaining entry to debates that does not rely on polling.

    The League is neither supporting nor opposing any of the specific recommendations proposed in the submitted petition at this time. However, we do support the request that the FEC proceed to undertake a rulemaking focused on the criteria governing inclusion in presidential and vice presidential candidate debates.

    Thank you for the opportunity to comment.

    The League commends the FEC for considering the request to review and revise these criteria, and we urge the agency to proceed to do so.

    League of Women Voters of the United States
    1730 M Street, NW #1000
    Washington, D.C. 20036
    202 429-1965
    http://www.lwv.org

  13. Joseph Buchman

    Another 350+ comments from individuals can be found on the site, as well as the CPD’s response in opposition to the petition.

    I’m up against another deadline today and am moving on to other things. If others can post the information available at the FEC’s public comments site here, I think it would be of value to IPR readers (and a bit easier to find/Google/etc).

    Hope the above is helpful,

    Joe

  14. Andy Craig Post author

    I think we get the idea, Joe. No need to cut and paste entire novels making the same point over and over, which is that many Libertarians supported an entirely different effort from the same group in the past.

    The FEC petition (which my post and the politico article didn’t even mention) attracted support from Libertarians (and Greens and others) because all it purported to do is lay out why the current CPD rules are illegal, that’s it. The open letter and publicity campaign encouraging the specific system advocated by CtR/LtPF, has not attracted such support.

    Since it’s the open letter and this specific proposal and its famous batch of signatories, not the months-old FEC petition, that’s getting a new round of public attention and media coverage, that’s what I focused on, from the specific angle of why their proposed rule is flawed and unsatisfactory from the perspective of the main alt-parties who have otherwise been supportive of other debate inclusion efforts.

  15. Andy Craig Post author

    On another note, the CPD’s strange logo is oddly apt. Either it’s a two-headed three-legged three-winged monstrosity, just like the CPD, or it’s two eagles working together to suffocate and hide a third struggling bird between them, just like the CPD.

  16. Gallagher Titus

    This is a scam. Don’t let these people scam you a third time. Don’t give them money.

  17. CFroh

    Thank you Andy and Paul for immediately detecting the scam inherent in this powerful, new coalition to use signature counts instead of the 15% threshold to add another candidate to the Presidential Debates.

    Indeed this new scam would allow the Americas Elect billionaire & his crony corporate friends to outbid legitimate third parties to seize that extra debate slot for a Mayor Bloomberg or other such “independent” meant to fake out the growing non-affiliated cohort demanding a third choice.

    Fans of debate choices instead should contribute to http://www.OurAmericaInitiative.com‘s Debate Lawsuit, either at the website or at one of the Fundraiser Events happening across the country starting next week. OAI’s lawsuit seeks entry into the debates for any candidate who’s qualified in enough states for the 270 Electoral Votes needed to win. Ours is the true coalition for debate fairness, as only ours includes the Greens as well as the Libertarians – neither of which have fallen for the scam getting all the attention.

    It is helpful for our Fundraiser Events’ RSVP counts and donations, though, to have the media and influentials murmuring about the scam coalition – proving once again that bad news is good news.

  18. Darryl W. Perry

    A proposal I made in Duopoly: How the Republicrats Control the Electoral Process
    Seven debates between Labor Day and the end of October; one debate in each of seven regions (New England, Mid-Atlantic, Midwest, Northwest, Southwest, South Central and Southeast) with all ballot listed candidates in the region invited to participate.

  19. Robert Capozzi

    dwp, technical point: where did you get those regions from, and which states are in each of them?

  20. Darryl W. Perry

    I came up with those 7 regions as a consensus among the various region names used by the Census Bureau, and several private organizations. The use of the region names do not necessarily denote colloquial usage of the term.
    New England: Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island & Vermont
    Mid-Atlantic: Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia & Washington DC
    Midwest: Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota & Wisconsin (Kansas & Missouri could also be South Central)
    Northwest: Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Utah, Washington & Wyoming
    Southwest: Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Nevada & New Mexico
    South Central: Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma & Texas (possibly Missouri & Kansas)
    Southeast: Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina & Tennessee

  21. Andy Craig Post author

    Why would you split the national debate up into regions? And why seven? More debates are better in the abstract of course, at least for the folks who like watching presidential debates I suppose, but historically the major-party candidates agree to between one and three debates. There’s a bit of chatter there might be four in 2016 since the conventions are earlier. But seven? One every eight days?

    Also, when you say all candidates who have ballot access in that region- do you mean a single state in that region? A majority of states in the region? All of them? Because you’re never going to get an incumbent President and his major-party opponent on-stage with the gaggle of candidates who manage one or two state ballot access. There’s always a few states that have really liberal ballot access, and so have a dozen candidates on the ballot, ranging all the way to folks like Vermin Supreme and Roseanne Barr. As amusing as that would be, at some point you have to get a buy-in from the Republican and Democrat, or at least one of them. You can’t literally ban them from appearing in the same place together, or send the police to drag them on-stage to debate the Twelve Visions Party and American Third Position and Socialist Workers Party candidates who managed to file the right form or cut a check in a couple of a states.

    What was the total number of candidates who had at least single-state ballot access? North of twenty, wasn’t it? That’s exactly the sort of scenario the Ds and Rs set up as a strawman to justify excluding the one or two alternative candidates with legitimate nationwide ballot access and a demonstrated modicum of support.

  22. Joseph Buchman

    Charles Frohman @ March 19, 2015 at 6:24 am wrote:

    “Thank you Andy and Paul for immediately detecting the scam inherent in this powerful, new coalition to use signature counts instead of the 15% threshold . . .”

    You might want to also thank Jim Polichak from Long Island who wrote on November 21, 2014 at 12:33 am

    “This portion of the proposal {whoever has gathered the most signatures as part of the ballot access process will participate in the debates } will penalize the most successful minority parties because each one has spent the last decade doing their best to obtain ballot status for as many states that they can primarily so that they can spend their time, efforts, and money seeking votes rather than signatures. The Libertarian Party is now on the ballot for president in 2016 in thirty states. Meaning that in these states they have to collect far fewer signatures than any party that is not on the ballot ”

    That’s about four months ago and also several weeks before OAI’s comments on the FEC website supporting the Level the Playing Field/Americans Elect/Change the Rules initiative.

  23. Joseph Buchman

    Charlie Frohman @March 19, 2015 at 6:24 am wrote:

    “Fans of debate choices instead should contribute to http://www.OurAmericaInitiative.com?s Debate Lawsuit, either at the website or at one of the Fundraiser Events happening across the country starting next week. ”

    I went to the link above, which then took me here:

    https://fundly.com/oai-presidential-debate-commission

    where I read the following:

    “The OUR America Initiative is a 501(c)(4) political advocacy committee and may receive unlimited donations from both individual and corporate donors. Contributions and gifts to Our America Initiative are not deductible for Federal income tax purposes Our America Initiative has a no refunds policy and fund (sic) may be used for overhead cost. Our America Initiative, although not a plaintiff in the lawsuit against the Commission on Presidential Debates, is proud to help finance the lawsuit through its fundraising efforts and to support the plaintiffs and their lawyers in other ways.”

    The fundraising goal on this site today is reported as “$100,000” of which “$7,216.00” is reported as having been raised from 154 donors.

    The fundraising goal on that site in May 2014 was $120,000″ with a “target” of “$50,000 NOW!” of which “$25,222” was reported as having been raised.

    The fundraising goal on that site on June 18th 2014 was “200,000” with $30,124″ reported as having been raised.

    A fundraiser was held at the 2014 Libertarian National Convention on 27 June 2014. I’ve not seen any disclosure of the amount raised there or an update on the website which reported a total higher than the pre-convention amount of $30,124.”

    Does the above disclosed “fund (sic) may be used for overhead cost” reduction from $30,124 in the pre-convention June 2014 report, to the current report of $7,216 on the site today, mean that whatever was raised at the Convention, plus $22,908 ($30,124 – $7,216) has been used for overhead?

  24. Darryl W. Perry

    “Why would you split the national debate up into regions? And why seven? More debates are better in the abstract of course, at least for the folks who like watching presidential debates I suppose, but historically the major-party candidates agree to between one and three debates. There’s a bit of chatter there might be four in 2016 since the conventions are earlier. But seven? One every eight days?”
    7 debates would make sure there was 1 per week from the Tuesday after Labor Day until late October. If you have 8 or more (assuming 1 per week) you would run into November and possibly have a debate the night before the election.
    I’d love to see 1 debate per day for 51 days leading up to the election with each debate taking place in a different state, and every candidate in that state getting invited.

    “Also, when you say all candidates who have ballot access in that region- do you mean a single state in that region? A majority of states in the region? All of them?”
    My idea is anyone with ballot access in a single state in the region gets a debate invite. Though I wouldn’t oppose having it be all candidates on in a majority of the states in the region.

    “Because you’re never going to get an incumbent President and his major-party opponent on-stage with the gaggle of candidates who manage one or two state ballot access”
    And the problem is???

    “at some point you have to get a buy-in from the Republican and Democrat, or at least one of them.”
    Maybe the FEC can implement a rule similar to the debate rule in Arizona that says if you accept public funding, you must participate in at least one debate in which all of the ballot listed candidates are invited.

    “What was the total number of candidates who had at least single-state ballot access? North of twenty, wasn’t it?”
    I believe 18 candidates had ballot access in at least 1 state; with Colorado having 16 on the ballot. Florida had 12 & Louisiana had 11.
    Realizing that some of the candidates who are invited won’t attend, I don’t see the problem. I’ve been in candidate forums with 10 candidates on stage. Hell, the GOP had a debate with 9 candidates during the 2012 Primaries…

  25. Andy Craig Post author

    Having a debate every week is a problem, because while debates have value, that’s not all the campaign should be about. Candidates that don’t perform well in debates, should and do have other ways to campaign and promote their message. Under your plan, the general election campaign would consist of nothing but one debate followed by the reaction to it and preparation for the next debate. People would get sick of it pretty quick, and I’m not sure it would make for a higher-quality campaign cycle that elevated better candidates. There’s a point of diminishing returns to more debates, and once a week is well on the wrong side of that curve I think.

    At the state level, it’s easy to say “anybody on the ballot” because that’s one list for one ballot that rarely exceeds four or five candidates for those offices. In the Presidential elections, there are really only two equivalent places to draw the line: ballot access in enough states to carry the 270-vote majority in the Electoral College, or ballot access in all 50 states plus DC. The latter being problematic because of the potential of a single-state holdout being determinative.

    As for single-state ballot access candidates, you can make the abstract principled case for it, but the reality is the Republican and Democratic nominees are never going to participate in a debate with 10 or 12 or 16 other candidates, most of whom won’t crack 10,000 votes in the one or two states where they are on the ballot. You can point to crowded GOP primary debates, but those were both widely ridiculed as ineffective, and also blatantly gave more time and more question to the “top-tier” candidates while some got as little as 90 seconds to talk. And none of those candidates had ballot access limited to <5% of the relevant electorate. There just really isn't any reason why the major-party nominees would ever agree to debate a candidate who not only doesn't clear the 270+EV threshold, but are also isn't on the ballot for a comfortable super-majority of the population (85%+). Without at least one of the major-party nominees participating, it's just another ho-hum alternate candidates debate like we already get plenty of and which almost nobody watches.

    As for making public funding contingent on debate participation, that only works if 1) public funding is on the table, which Libertarians rightly don't support and which I would be surprised to learn you do 2) the major-party candidates accepting that funding and the strings attached. Obama famously didn't in either 2008 or 2012. Neither did Romney in 2012.

  26. George Phillies

    Joe,

    You have to understand this new math, which also says that inserting trailing zeros is no big deal. As an example note the Johnson pre- and post- election FEC reports and the reported debts.

  27. Matt Cholko

    How many are likely to be on 270 EV’s worth of states by April? Can the LP and Greens meet that deadline?

    Clearly, the petition signature requirement is not good. It would guarantee that the candidate with the most money gets into the debate. That will not likely be an L or G, unless an outsider just wanted to use one of those parties for the ballot access infrastructure.

  28. Joseph Buchman

    George Phillies @ March 19, 2015 at 3:37 pm

    “You have to understand this new math, which also says that inserting trailing zeros is no big deal. As an example note the Johnson pre- and post- election FEC reports and the reported debts.”

    I can’t make heads or tails of the FEC issues, but always appreciate your explication of the equivocating of same in LIBERTY FOR AMERICA.

    (Always wanted to use explication and equivocation in the same sentence . . .).

    🙂

    http://libertyforamerica.com

    Joe

  29. Andy Craig Post author

    The Libertarian Party stands at 308 Electoral Votes just from the 30 states where they already have earned ballot access. The Green Party has 21 states totaling 306 Electoral Votes where they have the same. (the Greens have fewer states, but have a few big ones like NY and OH that the LP doesn’t, so it works out about the same in EV totals)

    So they’ll both be over the 270+EV threshold no matter what.

    https://independentpoliticalreport.com/2015/03/green-party-ballot-access-map-february-2015/

  30. Darryl W. Perry

    “but the reality is the Republican and Democratic nominees are never going to participate in a debate with 10 or 12 or 16 other candidates,”
    It’s going to be difficult to get them to participate in a debate with 2 other candidates… the only time BOTH major party candidates debated an independent candidate in the same debate was in 1992! John Anderson did participate in 1 debate in 1980, and Jimmy Carter refused to take part in the debate. The other debate in 1980 was between Carter & Reagan.

  31. Darryl W. Perry

    “As for making public funding contingent on debate participation, that only works if 1) public funding is on the table, which Libertarians rightly don’t support and which I would be surprised to learn you do 2) the major-party candidates accepting that funding and the strings attached. Obama famously didn’t in either 2008 or 2012. Neither did Romney in 2012.”
    But the GOP & DNC both accepted public funding for their conventions!

  32. Jed Ziggler

    Heck, some of the minor party candidates might not be willing to participate. I can easily see Jill Stein refuse to share the stage with Roseanne Barr, and I’d imagine most of the various socialist candidates would protest the AFP’s inclusion.

  33. Andy Craig Post author

    “But the GOP & DNC both accepted public funding for their conventions!”

    So? The RNC and DNC are not the Obama/Biden and Romney/Ryan campaigns, just like the LNC is not the Johnson/Gray campaign. What the parties did or didn’t accept is no lever on the candidates or campaigns.

  34. Darryl W. Perry

    but the major party conventions are used to promote the Presidential candidates, which is a kind of indirect taxpayer subsidy to the campaign.

    I’ll concede the point though.

  35. Jed Ziggler

    “I thought there was a 3-way debate with Nader, Bush, and Gore. Am I wrong?”

    Afraid you are. Nader qualified for the debates, so the CPD hurried up & changed the rules.

  36. Andy Craig Post author

    One of the signatories, former Undersecretary of State James Glassman, specifically dismisses the idea that this would apply to candidates like Nader in the Politico article. Which raises the question: if Nader wouldn’t have been the third candidate, particularly in 2000 (but also in 2004, and 2008) who would it have been? Browne or Badnarik or Buchanan might have possibly gathered more signatures, but I doubt that’s who he has in mind either. Nader 2000 was the best post-Perot third-party/independent showing to date, and they say he’s beyond the pale of what they’re asking for.

    Since Bloomberg’s hopes of being a serious candidate are dead and gone, who in particular could Ackerman be angling to have included that might run? Some other centrist-establishment-type billionaire? I’m not so sure they could come up with somebody, they didn’t in 2008 or 2012. Lieberman? Whitman? McCrystal? Angus King? Bill Walker? Sanders? None of them seem terribly likely. I’m curious who they think would step in to buy this third spot in the debate. Perot 2016?

  37. Andy Craig Post author

    “Heck, some of the minor party candidates might not be willing to participate. I can easily see Jill Stein refuse to share the stage with Roseanne Barr, and I’d imagine most of the various socialist candidates would protest the AFP’s inclusion.”

    Basically what you’d be left with is this:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sN9nxFLXrKU

  38. CFroh

    Joe Buchman asked if OAI Debate Lawsuit donations had been used for overhead in addition to the lawsuit. From what I’ve been told the answer is no.

    In fact, OAI has used general donations for the lawsuit, on top of earmarked contributions. OAI has spent more on the lawsuit than it has taken in.

    Buchman was fair to point out the disclosure clearly listed at OAI that donations may be used for other projects – and almost 40 of our 50 state affiliates have efforts under way to change the law in a libertarian direction, not to mention other national projects. Opening the debates is OAI’s priority though, and raises and spends the most money of all projects. It would be nice to raise more money to add resources in all our states. Where’s that Koch money?!

    As the lawsuit has matured as a real possibility, costs have gone up both as a result of new, more experienced lawyers and their firms coming on board (including former Reagan Administration Deputy Attorney General Bruce Fein), and as future estimated costs are more exactly anticipated (such as the defense of repeated motions to dismiss expected by the Presidential Commission). Hundreds of thousands of dollars will be needed most likely.

    With the billionaire “Change the Rule” coalition giving welcome attention to the unfairness of the debates, hopefully activists with means will attend one of our fundraisers on the national tour, starting 2pm Saturday at the Scottsdale Omni and continuing 7pm Thursday at the Hotel Albuquerque, followed soon thereafter in Columbus, Chicago, DC, NY, Ft Lauderdale, Austin, Seattle, San Francisco, Newport Beach and Salt Lake City. Contact the state director at http://www.OurAmericaInitiative.com for an invitation in your state, and please encourage donors you know to attend these fundraiser briefings on the lawsuit strategy.

    This is the best shot we have to change history – because if the LP and Green candidates get into the debates, name ID will rise and bring a lot more votes, coverage and donations.

  39. Joshua Katz

    AC, if we could get those tiresome bores (whoever they happen to be) off of tv, and have every channel play nothing but Vermin Supreme making Randall Terry gay, I’d be happy. Actually I wouldn’t care because I don’t have a tv, but we’d have a more informed electorate.

  40. paulie

    Since Bloomberg’s hopes of being a serious candidate are dead and gone

    Why?

    who in particular could Ackerman be angling to have included that might run? Some other centrist-establishment-type billionaire? I’m not so sure they could come up with somebody, they didn’t in 2008 or 2012. Lieberman? Whitman? McCrystal? Angus King? Bill Walker? Sanders? None of them seem terribly likely. I’m curious who they think would step in to buy this third spot in the debate. Perot 2016?

    They have quite a few names that were somewhat interested in 2012, some of which are in the original article. They almost closed the deal with Huntsman, but he backed out. There were others biting the bait, but none swallowed the hook. If they could guarantee them a spot they could buy them in the debates that would certainly sweeten the deal for possible candidates, and make their chances of snagging a big fish a lot better. I’m still not clear why Bloomberg wouldn’t do it himself, or why he can’t win, though.

  41. paulie

    Indeed this new scam would allow the Americas Elect billionaire & his crony corporate friends to outbid legitimate third parties to seize that extra debate slot for a Mayor Bloomberg or other such “independent” meant to fake out the growing non-affiliated cohort demanding a third choice.

    Fans of debate choices instead should contribute to http://www.OurAmericaInitiative.com‘s Debate Lawsuit, either at the website or at one of the Fundraiser Events happening across the country starting next week. OAI’s lawsuit seeks entry into the debates for any candidate who’s qualified in enough states for the 270 Electoral Votes needed to win. Ours is the true coalition for debate fairness, as only ours includes the Greens as well as the Libertarians – neither of which have fallen for the scam getting all the attention.

    Good point.

  42. paulie

    This is a scam. Don’t let these people scam you a third time. Don’t give them money.

    Lack of money is not really their problem.

  43. paulie

    Buchman was fair to point out the disclosure clearly listed at OAI that donations may be used for other projects – and almost 40 of our 50 state affiliates have efforts under way to change the law in a libertarian direction, not to mention other national projects.

    Contact me if anyone wants to discuss getting involved on state projects in their states, or about opportunities for additional ones (especially if there is someone willing to head up the work on getting them advanced).

  44. Joseph Buchman

    CFroh @ March 20, 2015 at 12:27 am wrote:

    “Joe Buchman asked if OAI Debate Lawsuit donations had been used for overhead in addition to the lawsuit. From what I’ve been told the answer is no.”

    Charlie,

    As you may remember I’ve been a proponent of this lawsuit against the CPD since . . . well, since Andre Marrou was pushed out by the CPD . . . but also since the summer of 2012. I also think the “signature numbers” “TIE” breaker for any candidates over 270 electoral college votes is either ill informed or a scam to keep ballot qualified parties out of the debates).

    That said — and with sincere gratitude for answering the question above — can you now explain why the amount reported as having been raised by OAI for the CPD lawsuit has gone DOWN, not up, at least as reported on the website images captured and posted above?

    It seemed the overhead disclosure explained that, but while I’m glad to read that is not the case, it leaves the question — where did that money go? (as well as “How much was raised at the LP Convention in Columbus and where did all of those funds go).

    With the fundly link it’s now harder to evaluate past images from the website (archive.org has OAI images but not the fundly ones).

    From my experience spending almost 3 years on the board of a United Way funded agency, any organization which solicits donations for any social cause is generally served by being transparent and providing easy access to and review of where the money goes.

    It seems to me that whatever funds that were raised last year went to attorneys who are no longer involved. One representative of your new legal team has said they had to, “start from scratch.” Is that why the fundraising appears to have started over from zero?

  45. J

    Has anyone thought about the fact, that if Gary Johnson announces his run for President, not a single dollar raised by OAI can transfer hands to Candidate Gary Johnson, or his attorneys, for anything including a lawsuit. It would be a violation of campaign finance laws.

    The plot thickens, if Gary is not a candidate, he has no grounds or damages to sue the commission.

    If the only money available for the lawsuit is money raised by OAI, then it is either candidate Gary Johnson, or Plaintiff Gary Johnson… It can’t be both… Without it being both that is grounds for dismissal…

    Unless OAI plans to be the plaintiff — in which case, on what grounds? That seems like a scam to me.

  46. paulie

    J, Where did you get your “facts”? The lawsuit is on behalf of 2012 candidates, regardless of whether they run in 2016, and the damages have already occurred; the lawsuit is so they don’t occur again for whoever runs in the future, whether it is Johnson or not. The only money is not raised by OAI, there are several organizations all involved. And nothing about the lawsuit implies any transfer of money to a political campaign, if there is to be one.

  47. paulie

    It seems to me that whatever funds that were raised last year went to attorneys who are no longer involved. One representative of your new legal team has said they had to, “start from scratch.” Is that why the fundraising appears to have started over from zero?

    Not an official answer but I believe that is correct.

  48. J

    Really? They are going to attempt to sue the commission for 2012? What damages are they claiming? They are going to try and get an injunction ordering the commission to do what exactly? They have yet to exclude anyone in 2016, who is to say they will?

    Let’s say that they in fact do sue for 2012, it is likely that this entire case will be tossed out on the first motion to dismiss, at which point, all of that extra money raised will go where?

    According to Gov. Johnson he will be running, to whit, it doesn’t matter if it is OAI or the “Save the Whales PAC” no money can transfer from any super PAC to any candidate once the candidate has announced his run. My facts coming from Citizens United v. FEC.

    As for you editor Paulie, you should consider recusing yourself from these discussions seeing as how you are both an editor here and a beneficiary of Ron Nielson. In order to maintain at least an appearance of impartial journalism.

  49. paulie

    As for you editor Paulie, you should consider recusing yourself from these discussions seeing as how you are both an editor here and a beneficiary of Ron Nielson. In order to maintain at least an appearance of impartial journalism.

    I’m not a “beneficiary,” I don’t claim to be doing impartial journalism in IPR comments, and I won’t recuse myself from any discussions, although the internet at the motel I am at sucks so I may have to for other reasons.

    What damages are they claiming?

    The commission acts as a non-profit when in fact it is BI-partisan, not non-partisan, and the debate actually serves as joint advertising for the D and R candidates and against all others who could theoretically win, which was only two candidates in 2012 and has never been more than 5. It is based on a subjective selection of polls that don’t even include all the candidates. Thus its criteria is faulty and used by the two parties which make up the commission to exclude competitors and give themselves an unearned advantage.

    According to Gov. Johnson he will be running

    No, he says he would like to, not that he definitely will. No announcement has been made and it is still very much in the air.

    no money can transfer from any super PAC to any candidate

    No money is planned to transfer to any candidate. Simple as that.

  50. paulie

    They have yet to exclude anyone in 2016, who is to say they will?

    The lawsuit is to require them to have fair, objective rules as to who will be included.

  51. J

    You didn’t answer the question. What damages did Gary Johnson incur due to the commission? Is there tangible proof, that his participation would have resulted in a different outcome? If not the odds of dismissal are exceedingly high, at which point all of this fundraising will have been for not.

    Have you worked for or in concert with Ron Nielson in the past? Have you coordinated signature gathering? Have you received monetary or in kind contributions from Ron Nielson or any group affiliated with Ron Nielson in the last 5 years? If so, you have benefitted from the fundraising efforts of OAI.

    Gary, in his newsmax interview said he will run for president, His Wikipedia page says he intends to, he has told audiences and fundraising crowds, and he has had countless conversations with his supporters to that end.

  52. paulie

    You didn’t answer the question.

    Yes, I did.

    What damages did Gary Johnson incur due to the commission?

    Unequal treatment in selection of candidates for the debate that ended up excluding him.

    Is there tangible proof, that his participation would have resulted in a different outcome?

    You mean is there proof that being excluded from debates injures candidates’ chances of being elected? That is a ridiculous question.

    Have you worked for or in concert with Ron Nielson in the past? Have you coordinated signature gathering? Have you received monetary or in kind contributions from Ron Nielson or any group affiliated with Ron Nielson in the last 5 years? If so, you have benefitted from the fundraising efforts of OAI.

    I work as a volunteer with OAI. I haven’t been hired by OAI.

    Gary, in his newsmax interview said he will run for president, His Wikipedia page says he intends to, he has told audiences and fundraising crowds, and he has had countless conversations with his supporters to that end.

    No, he says he would like to. Listen more carefully to what he says. He has not said he will. If anyone has said he will definitely run, they are misquoting him. Neither an announcement nor a decision has been made and on that I can be 100% official.

  53. J

    Any defendant will argue that they in no way impeded other organizations from hosting and marketing their own debate. Gary appeared in multiple televised debates. They did not result in movement in the polls, they did not pull real viewership, that has nothing to do with the commission, it has to do with the caliber of the candidate.

    If Gary had any talent as a candidate, his first debate appearance would have generated more than a dog poop one liner, and moved his numbers.

    Again, you attempted to dodge the benefit question. I stated you benefit from Ron Nielson: have you received any payment, or on kind benefit from Ron Nielson in the last 5 years? Rides cross country? Hotel stays? Payment of any kind?

  54. J

    And by Ron Nielson I mean, NSON, OAI, RTNielson, Gary Johnson for President, The Tea Party Express apparently, or any other of his countless organizations.

  55. paulie

    How did I dodge a question that I answered? I have not been hired by OAI, in fact, I have been a donor. What is unclear about that? And why do you keep falsely insisting that I have received money when I haven’t?

    Other organizations can’t host debates featuring the D and R candidates, because that is part of their contract with the CPD. The parties that nominate them are part of that contract and would not allow them to participate either. It’s ridiculous to suggest that debating Rocky Anderson, Jill Stein and Virgil Goode is equivalent to debating the two establishment party candidates.

    And getting the most memorable one-liner of the 2012 debate season, while being featured in only one or two debates with a large number of candidates and being given very little time to speak, is actually quite an accomplishment.

  56. paulie

    And by Ron Nielson I mean, NSON, OAI, RTNielson, Gary Johnson for President, The Tea Party Express apparently, or any other of his countless organizations.

    What party of no do you not understand? And why do you keep linking to a non-working url?

  57. J

    What facts do you need Paulie?

    Can OAI or any other organization fund Gary Johnson’s lawsuit after he becomes a presidential candidate? No. According to FEC regulations and Citizens United v. FEC.

    Has Gary suffered any tangible damages due to his exclusion. According to his previous lawsuit claiming the same the answer is no.

    Did Paulie work on concert with organizations affiliated to Ron Nielson in the last 5 years. Yes.

    According to Reason Magazine, Newsmax, And his conversations at public events Gary has said he will run. The newsmax quote is “I’ll run in 2016 to provide a Libertarian option…” If the quote is incorrect so be it, but that is what a quick google search turns up.

  58. J

    Most memorable line in the 2012 debate season?

    Newt Gingrich: “shame on you wolf blitzed…”

    Herman Caine: “Nine. Nine. Nine…”

    Rick Perry: “…oops…”

    All three more influential and more memorable.

  59. paulie

    Can OAI or any other organization fund Gary Johnson’s lawsuit after he becomes a presidential candidate? No. According to FEC regulations and Citizens United v. FEC.

    Please cite which FEC regulation says they can not be involved in the same lawsuit.

    Has Gary suffered any tangible damages due to his exclusion.

    Yes, see above.

    Did Paulie work on concert with organizations affiliated to Ron Nielson in the last 5 years. Yes.

    As a volunteer and donor, yes.

    According to Reason Magazine, Newsmax, And his conversations at public events Gary has said he will run. The newsmax quote is “I’ll run in 2016 to provide a Libertarian option…” If the quote is incorrect so be it, but that is what a quick google search turns up.

    Then you need to do more than a quick google search because like the rest of your “facts” you are once again wrong. I am paying very careful attention to each original source and checking back with Gary and Ron themselves. Once again, there has been no decision and no announcement.

    Plain and simple, you have not said one thing that is correct yet.

  60. J

    Genuinely, I could care less if OAI is able to convince members of the Libertarian Party to squander resources in order to line the pockets of a few Utah Republicans and now the former Democratic mayor of Salt Lake City. Really I could.

    In reality I have not said anything that does not ring true.

    All I am saying is if this lawsuit is not filed by the former Democratic Mayor of SLC before Gary Johnson becomes a candidate, it becomes nearly impossible at very least improbable to execute. If it fails, Gary has wasted months and months fundraising for a failed lawsuit rather than fundraising for his run, and for development of the Libertarian Part.

    The Libertarian Party is the real victim in all of this.

  61. paulie

    All three more influential and more memorable.

    Disagreed, plus all three given a lot more chances to debate. And it has nothing to do with the lawsuit. It should be pretty obvious that allowing two of the parties to collude to exclude others that have a theoretical chance to win, and falsely claiming non-profit eductional status to do it as opposed to the reality (joint advertising) is injurious to the excluded candidates and parties. Separate but not equal debates among the excluded candidates fail to make up for this; claiming that they do does not pass the laugh test.

  62. J

    I assure you that tomorrow, after contacting the FEC I will site a specific regulation. Until then there is no more to be said.

  63. paulie

    In reality I have not said anything that does not ring true.

    That statement would be correct if you took out the second “not.”

  64. paulie

    I assure you that tomorrow, after contacting the FEC I will site a specific regulation.

    Ah, so you are engaging in wishful thinking.

  65. J

    Paulie, if you weren’t so obviously a hatchet man for Ron Nielson maybe we could have a serious conversations about how to actually impact outcomes rather than chasing the debate dragon.

  66. paulie

    Stop linking to a non-working URL, removing it each time you post is a waste of time.

    And stop the BS.

    I am not a hatchet man for anyone, my opinions are 100% my own, and I have no difficulty in expressing disagreement with Ron when we disagree, such as on the transparency issue.

    You have shown zero facts, nothing you have said has been true, and you are using the BS about me to hide your lack of facts. Since you are posting in a public forum your “serious conversation” should stand on its own regardless of who else posts here.

  67. Andy

    Note that the Presidential “debate” between the D candidate and the R candidate both utilize tax payer resources.

  68. Pingback: Bloomburg Editors: Break Up CPD Debate Duopoly! | Independent Political Report

  69. Guess what

    Just include everyone on the ballot in the state where the debate is held. if the duopoly wants to exclude everyone else, make them hold all four debates in Oklahoma.

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