Libertarians, Greens, & Level the Playing Field (formerly Americans Elect) file lawsuit against Comm. on Pres. Debates

Press Release via the Libertarian Party:

The Libertarian Party joined Level the Playing Field, the successor group to Americans Elect, and the Green Party to file a lawsuit aimed at the Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD), a Democratic- and Republican-run agency that sets rules designed to exclude third parties and independents from presidential debates.

The lawsuit is filed against the Federal Election Commission (FEC), which is also run by Democrats and Republicans and which refuses to enforce laws that the CPD is blatantly violating.

“The Commission on Presidential Debates is another example of the two old parties working hand in hand to keep the American people from hearing real, bold ideas for how to fix this country,” said Nicholas Sarwark, Chair of the Libertarian National Committee. “Nothing scares them more than having a fresh voice on that debate stage.”

“Any candidate eligible for the Presidency and on enough ballots to be elected should be on the debate stage,” he said. “Anything else is unfair and perpetrates a fraud on the American voter.  This lawsuit is just one way we are calling out this sham and fighting for all Americans to hear from all of the candidates for President.”

Read the full complaint here.

82 thoughts on “Libertarians, Greens, & Level the Playing Field (formerly Americans Elect) file lawsuit against Comm. on Pres. Debates

  1. Chuck Moulton

    I read the complaint earlier today. It looks pretty good.

    Too bad Gary Johnson keeps dropping the ball. Glad I didn’t donate to that scam.

  2. Andy

    The Level The Playing Field group is pushing to set up criteria that would allow only one other candidate to be in the Presidential.Debate, and you can bank on that candidate being their candidate, and not anyone else. Libertarians and Greens need to be aware of this.

  3. Nicholas Sarwark

    I submitted a comment on their proposed rulemaking, so I’m well aware of what their preferred remedy is. However, we all agree on the problem, even if we disagree on the eventual solution.

  4. Bondurant

    If the former AE is looking to only include themselves, this needs to be addressed. The only logical result would be for the debates to include all parties on the ballot in enough states, as to have a mathematical chance to secure the required EC votes.

  5. Richard Winger

    It’s clear that the original AE idea of only including a 3rd person (the one who gets the most signatures) is no longer AE’s mail goal. Otherwise AE would never have included the Libertarian and Green Parties in the case.

  6. George Whitfield

    Best wishes on their suit. I glanced at the many pages of detailed information in the complaint and was impressed by how much time and work it must have taken to write and file.

  7. Chuck Moulton

    They included the Green and Libertarian parties to ensure there would be standing for the lawsuit and to bolster their argument, not because they’ve changed their tune about the remedy.

  8. Austin Cassidy

    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, the standard of being on enough state ballots to potentially get 270 Electoral votes is a bad way to do this.

    There are only one of two outcomes…

    1. The proposal is dismissed entirely, because it creates a standard that is too easy to meet and could result in a general election debate stage as packed as the primary debates.

    2. The standard is adopted, and then ballot access laws are quickly tightened to make it much harder for a candidate to get onto enough ballots to qualify.

    It’s a no-win situation. Lowering the polling test to something like 3% or 5% would be MUCH more likely to be adopted.

  9. Andy Craig Post author

    via Our America Initiative:

    GOV. GARY JOHNSON APPLAUDS PRESIDENTIAL DEBATE LAWSUIT

    June 22, 2015, Salt Lake City, UT — Calling it the “next step” in changing the two-party control of presidential debates, 2012 Libertarian presidential candidate Gov.Gary Johnson today noted the filing of a lawsuit against the Federal Election Commission ( FEC).

    The lawsuit, filed Monday in U.S. District Court in Washington, DC, challenges the FEC’s treatment of the private Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD) as non-partisan, citing the CPD’s use of polling criteria to effectively limit participation to only the Republican and Democrat candidates. Plaintiffs in the case include the Libertarian Party and the Green Party as well as Level the Playing Field and noted supporter Peter Ackerman.

    Johnson is the Honorary Chairman of the Our America Initiative, a nonprofit organization which is advocating a change in the Presidential debates. Johnson noted that in addition to the FEC lawsuit additional legal complaints will soon be filed to challenge the Commission on Presidential Debate”s control over the Presidential debates.

    In a statement released Monday, the former New Mexico Governor said, “The last time a third party or independent candidate was allowed to participate in nationally televised general election presidential debates was 1992. The reason is simple. The Commission on Presidential Debates, which controls the debates, was created by the Republican and Democrat Parties and remains under that two-party control today. This lawsuit against the FEC is an important step toward stripping the veneer off the CPD and treating it as what it really is: A partisan organization that exists to protect the two-party dominance of the political process.

    “By opening another ‘front’ in the battle against unfairly limited presidential debates, this recent FEC legal challenge strengthens the soon-to-be-filed second lawsuit being coordinated by the Our America Initiative, and adds credible voices to the growing discontent with the CPD’s persistent exclusion of qualified third party and independent candidates from the nationally-televised debate stage.”

  10. Joe

    IMO the primary benefit of this sort of legal action is the EARNED MEDIA it can generate — especially if the lawsuit is won, but also by the act of filing and drawing attention even if the suit itself is lost.

    For the LP not to have been involved would have been a mistake — good job LNC/Nick in becoming part of this, especially at no cost to the LNC.

    Meanwhile it would appear the legal team for the OAI lawsuit has changed again. Rocky Anderson emailed his withdrawal some weeks ago and I received a call (yet to be confirmed) earlier today that Alicia Dearn is once again in charge of the laughably self-proclaimed (for over 18 months now) “soon-to-be-filed” or “soon to be transferred” suit. Alicia’s website is –

    http://bellatrixlaw.com/the-bellatrix-story.

    Over a year ago, in coverage of the Columbus LP convention, Alicia and the lawsuit were characterized as follows:

    “Alicia Dearn, legal counsel for the OAI, outlined the legal challenge they and the LP are preparing and will soon file in federal court in Washington, DC.”

    https://www.lp.org/files/lp_news/2014-4_LP_News.pdf Page 6.

    Later OAI would claim that it was NOT joining the LP as a party in the suit, but was only doing fundraising and providing other support for suit.

    “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.” Source: https://www.ouramericainitiative.com/presidential-debate-commission.html

    Prior IPR coverage of each of these proposed legal actions (for full disclosure – each posted by me) can be found at:

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

    https://independentpoliticalreport.com/2014/06/johnson-cpd-lawsuit-fundraising-goal-30k-in-february-200k-in-june/

    https://independentpoliticalreport.com/2014/05/judge-gray-on-coast-to-coast-am-gj-2016-war-on-drugs-cpd-lawsuit-etc/

    https://independentpoliticalreport.com/2014/02/gary-johnson-announces-new-cpd-lawsuit-for-2016-debates/

  11. Andy Craig Post author

    The complaint asks for either (a) the FEC to respond to that rulemaking petition and enforce the campaign finance laws or (b) for the FEC to allow LtPF to sue the CPD directly. The FEC by law was supposed to respond within 120 days, it’s coming up on 300 days and they’re still sitting on it.

    It does not specify the specific remedy that CPD should adopt instead, incl. LtPF’s proposed signature-competition nonsense. Between them partnering with us on this, and the specific criticism that proposal has received from both established alt-parties, otherwise-sympathetic pundits, and the CPD itself, I believe Richard Winger is correct that they’re, if not dropping that idea, at least de-emphasizing it. I wrote the article we had here blasting that and explaining why it’s so awful, but I’m fine with LP joining with this lawsuit.

    @Austin Cassidy

    I agree that, if we ever get a result, something like that is likely to be it. In particular, requiring only polls that include all 270+EV candidates be considered, and then including those among that set who meet a lower polling threshold. 3% is very optimistic, 5% is probably the best we could do, and I think 8% or 10% is the most likely level. We can potentially meet those- even 10%- so long as we get the requirement of being included in the polls.

    However, that doesn’t mean the 270+EV starting point is wrong. 270+EV gives us standing and a position to negotiate from, it makes a very strong case under both the campaign finance laws this suit is based on and the anti-trust argument OAI wants to make, and we can make the point that would only be two additional candidates in 2012. We’re only ever going to get at best half of what we’re asking for, so better to aim high. There is going to be some kind of change to the CPD’s rules at this point, that much is clear. If we ask for 5% and they give us 10% (without guaranteed poll inclusion), then they get to look like they made a concession and then wash their hands of the matter when nobody meets their 10% in polls that only name the major-two.

    And I don’t think ballot access hurdles could be ratcheted up in time for 2016 to keep either us or the Greens below 270, nor do I think more than one or two candidates max will meet that (maybe the CP, but that’s doubtful, and maybe AE’s pipe-dream independent, but I don’t think that will happen either). Long-term that would be a problem, if our ballot access threshold was accepted, but it wouldn’t be an immediate issue for 2016 in either direction (overcrowded or exclusive).

  12. Andy

    Austin, polls can be rigged. I had a long conversation with a political pollster one time who admitted to me that they can and frequently do rig polls to come out however the people paying for the polls want them to come out.

  13. Nicholas Sarwark

    270+ electoral votes is not an easy to meet standard. Go back and look historically at how many people would be on the debate stage if that was the standard. Can you cite a single example of when it was more than 5?

    Also, tightening ballot access laws and quickly should not be in the same sentence. Any tightening needs hearings and laws and signing and has to be done state by state. That’s ground I’d rather fight on than quibbling over polling percentages.

  14. Austin Cassidy

    No, I don’t have a recent example of when it would have been more than 5 candidates. However, had getting on the ballot in enough states to reach 270 EVs also meant guaranteed access to a series of national debates with the major party candidates, I strongly believe the number would’ve surged in the past.

    Free air time for any crackpot who could raise a couple hundred thousand dollars to organize some petition drives would turn the debates into a circus. We’d have 15 people on stage, including David Duke, Larry Flynt, a couple of 9/11 Truthers, and Randall Terry wearing an aborted fetus t-shirt.

    Don’t get me wrong… I absolutely, 100% support open debates for credible presidential candidates. I would love to have seen at least one debate last time that included Obama, Romney, Johnson, Stein and Goode.

    The idea that Gary Johnson, a former 2-term governor, wasn’t even remotely close to being included in any debate is disgusting to me. But I think some other standard has to be established beyond just how many state ballots a candidate is on.

  15. langa

    270+ electoral votes is not an easy to meet standard. Go back and look historically at how many people would be on the debate stage if that was the standard. Can you cite a single example of when it was more than 5?

    In 2008, it would have been 6 (Obama, McCain, Barr, Baldwin, Nader, McKinney).

    In general, though, I agree with your point.

  16. Andy

    Democrats and Republicans have had Presidential primary debates with 10 candidates on stage.

  17. Austin Cassidy

    Andy – Yes, they have. But they haven’t had a system in which someone can automatically get onto the stage based on ballot access. This year, Fox News is using 1% as the cut-off for the GOP. Even that is looking to be so crowded that they’re going to split it into 2 debates.

    If getting on the ballot in New Hampshire and South Carolina *guaranteed* ANYONE a spot in televised debates, it would threaten to become a circus.

    The states would then come under tremendous pressure to raise the requirements of getting onto the ballot as a way of filtering the debates. There would suddenly be a major push for New Hampshire to go from charging $1,000 to charging $100,000 as a qualifying fee.

  18. Austin Cassidy

    langa — Now that you mention it, wouldn’t 2004 also have had six? Did Cobb get on in enough states? I think he might have, the Greens held the California line.

    In 1996 Nader would have missed the cut, but that year would have included six candidates — Clinton, Dole, Perot, Browne, Phillips and Hagelin.

    And 2000 would have been Bush, Gore, Nader, Buchanan, and Browne for sure. And I think Phillips and Hagelin would also have had enough. So that one might have actually been seven?

  19. Andy

    Getting on the ballot in enough states to theoretically when the presidential election is very difficult. Currently the Libertarian, Green. and Constitution parties are the only parties besides Democrat and Republican to be nationally organized, and to have ballot access in multiple states.

    It would cost millions of dollars for a new party, or a current party that is only on the ballot in one or two states, or for an independent candidate, to get on enough state ballots to equal a chance at 270 Electoral Votes.

    Could any other parties or one or more independents meet this test if they knew it would guarantee them access to the big debates? Sure, but I seriously doubt it would be more than the number of candidates that have.been in Democrat and Republican Presidential primary debates (which I know have had at least 10 candidates before, maybe more).

    If you want to make it tougher than the 270 EC standard, then make it so that any candidate who gets on the ballot in all 50 states plus Washington DC automatically gets included in the debates with the Democrat and Republican candidates.

  20. Andy Craig Post author

    I’ve raised the possibility of 50+DC as the standard in the past, with the specific point that we’d probably be the only ones that would reach it. But it was pointed out, and on reflection I agree, the problem with that is having a one-state holdout. Or as it was in 2012, two states engaging in blatant shenanigans against us. Being on in 49 states but being screwed by OK again (or whichever other state) would make it such that a any one state legislature (or even any one secretary of state or elections board) could control debate exclusion at their whim, and that’s not a good solution.

    Nick is right that raising ballot access hurdles is easier to fight, and I think Austin in also right there would be a concerted push to do so if debate access hinged solely on ballot access. But I think just as a matter of viability, what we can realistically expect to get, it will probably still have some poll threshold component, so we should be prepared to present the case for a lower threshold instead of an impossible one. The key thing there is to require our inclusion in those polls.

  21. Andy

    I’ve been involved with LP ballot access for almost 15 years, and I can tell everyone that it was realistically within the LP’s reach to get on in all 50 states plus DC ever since I’ve been involved with and closely following LP ballot access. The primary reason the LP has missed it in the last few elections has been due to mismanagement.

    Gary Johnson not being on in Michigan (where the LP did have ballot access) was due to a state screw job interpretation of the “sore loser” law, but even with this, there were people in the LP who knew that this might happen in Michigan prior the convention where Gary won the LP nomination, but they purposefully kept this quite so most of the delegates would not know about it because they wanted Gary to win the nomination. I do not think this made much of a difference, because the other candidates were weak and they probably would have failed to get on the ballot in some of the places where Gary Johnson made it (note that the Johnson campaign had to kick in a lot more money for ballot access than they thought they would have had to, most due to ballot access mismanagement from the LNC and a few state parties (I”d put most of the blame on the LNC)).

    The Libertarian Party most definitely has a realistic shot at 50 states plus DC. The Greens might be able to pull it off if they were motivated by the possibility of getting an automatic spot in the Presidential debates. The Constitution Party would stand less of a chance than the Greens, but perhaps the chance at guaranteed debate access for getting nation wide ballot access might help them attract higher profile and/or wealthier candidates.

    Any other party or independent that wanted to get on the ballot in all 50 states plus DC better have really deep pockets to stand a realistic chance at this. Remember, Americans Elect spent like $20 million on ballot, and they still had something like 15 states where they did not finish (like Texas), or did not even start (like Illinois, Pennsylvania, and New York), before they pulled the plug and withdrew from the race. They could have easily spent another $10 million or more on ballot access had they not dropped out of the race.

    Americans Elect had to spend a lot more on ballot access than the Libertarian Party typically spends because Americans Elect did not have any real grass roots support, so they had to pay people to do everything (which included hiring mercenary petition coordinators who charge a premium price). Contrast this with the Libertarian Party which is a relatively large, grass roots organization, which means that the party has committed activists who are willing to perform a variety of tasks to help facilitate the execution of ballot access drives, and this saves the party thousands of dollars. I am talking about people like Mark Axinn in New York and Ken Moellman in Kentucky and Bob Johnston in Maryland and Lex Green in Illinois and Michael Pakko and Rodger & Jessica Paxton in Arkansas, to name just a few. The LP also has numerous people who collect signatures as unpaid volunteers, and even though their total number of signatures is often small, they still save they party thousands of dollars. Some of the LP’s paid petitioners actually save the party money as well. How so? If they consistently bring in good validity rates on the signatures they collect (as in on average), it means that the party does not have to pay for for as many signatures to access the ballot as it may have to otherwise. The LP even have a few people who regularly engage in lots of field outreach to the public during the course of ballot access drives, which helps build the the party and movement, and this is something that you just don’t get when dealing with strictly mercenary petitioners, which is all that Americans Elect had, since it they did not really have any grass roots support (like the LP has), as they were basically a “play toy” for a few rich people.

  22. Steve M

    I am in favor of just making sure that any corporation that contributes in any way to these debates no mater how many candidates are on the stage can’t write the expenses off. After all corporations should stay out of politics shouldn’t they.

  23. Richard Winger

    In the entire history of the US, there has never been a presidential general election with more than 7 candidates (including the majors) who had presidential elector candidates for a majority of the electoral college. The printed BAN of July 1, 2007 has a chart showing this for all elections back to 1856.

    If we had just one presidential election in which all candidates who are on the ballot in states containing a majority of electoral votes were in the debates, that standard would become routine. Major party politicians are terrified of change, but when change happens, and the roof doesn’t fall in on them, then they relax. It is the same with ballot access liberalization. Major party politicians are frequently frightened to death of liberalizing ballot access, but when it happens, they accept it. There is not one instance of a state making a substantial liberalization of its ballot access laws, and then changing its mind just a few years later and making it difficult again.

    Great Britain had a 7-party debate this year before the British general election. The smaller parties had to fight like crazy to make this happen. But now that it has happened, it will be the new norm. The 7-way debate was considered a success. No party leader messed up. The debate had high viewership and the puiblic liked it. That would happen in the US also if we could just get it for one election.

  24. paulie

    It would be very expensive for crackpot candidates to get to 270+EV. They would not start with many, or even any, states with previous retained ballot access. The LP currently has 31, including some very difficult states such as CA, TX, NC, GA and IN that would take a lot of work if we did not already have them retained from past efforts. The Green and to a lesser extent Constitution parties have some states in the bag as well.

    It would cost at the very least millions, and most likely tens of millions of FRNs, for someone without an established organization with grassroots all over the country, name recognition that gets volunteers mobilized nationwide, and ballot retention from past efforts to get to 270+ EV.

  25. langa

    Austin, polls can be rigged. I had a long conversation with a political pollster one time who admitted to me that they can and frequently do rig polls to come out however the people paying for the polls want them to come out.

    This is absolutely true. When I was in college, I took a Public Opinion class, and they taught us about all the different ways that surveys and polls can be manipulated to achieve their desired outcomes. For example, the specific wording of the questions, the order in which the questions are asked, and even the characteristics (such as race and gender) of the person who is asking the questions, can all have a substantial effect on the results that are obtained. The big polling firms are well aware of this, and frequently use it to get the results they desire.

  26. Mark Axinn

    Chuck wrote:
    >Too bad Gary Johnson keeps dropping the ball. Glad I didn’t donate to that scam.

    I was not aware that there some definitive statement that Johnson/Gray/OAI won’t be filing the action they have been preparing for quite some time. Did I miss something?

  27. Mark Axinn

    Guess I can answer my own question.

    OAI press release yesterday says:
    >By opening another ‘front’ in the battle against unfairly limited presidential debates, this recent FEC legal challenge strengthens the soon-to-be-filed second lawsuit being coordinated by the Our America Initiative…

  28. Chuck Moulton

    Mark Axinn wrote:

    I was not aware that there some definitive statement that Johnson/Gray/OAI won’t be filing the action they have been preparing for quite some time. Did I miss something?

    All we’ve seen is changing stories, delays, and lack of transparency from the same folks (Johnson, Nielson, etc.) with accounting shenanigans documented by George Phillies. Now someone else predictably has beat them to the punch — with the LNC on board as a plaintiff — and we still have no signs of how much the Johnson folks have raised or how much they are trying to raise, we’re not sure who the attorneys will be, we don’t know what they plan to argue, etc. This is not acceptable behavior from the Johnson crew.

    I’m not going to continue to give them a free pass on the terrible way the campaign has been run / will be run just because Johnson himself in a nice guy, mostly solid libertarian, and has impressive credentials. As long as the rest of you continue to support him in spite of the accounting shenanigans, lack of transparency, and un-libertarian positions (e.g., the “Fair Tax”), he has no incentive to shape up and we’ll get more of the same the next go around. Enough.

    If it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it’s a duck. We’ve given Johnson the benefit of the doubt far too long. The lawsuit is a scam to line a few people’s pockets. If it’s not a scam, they’d better file a lawsuit pretty damn soon after a year of dragging their feet — or at the very least the goundhog should pop out of its hole, look around, and tell us what the hell is going on.

  29. paulie

    Ron Nielson:

    Paul I was forwarded this post. Here are a couple of comments.

    Bruce Fein is still the attorney who is heading up the lawsuit. Bruce is located in WDC and has been working on the project the last 6-7 months. The legal team is modifying the complaint with some additional actions and they are looking to file in the next few weeks.

    Paulie Cannoli My understanding is we are doing both.
    16 hrs ? Like ? 2

    Paulie Cannoli Joe has asked some good questions about the OAI one on IPR email list. I could just pass them on to Ron, but the last thing I want is to be the back and forth messenger between former friends that had a falling out. My past experiences with such things haven’t been too fun. I’ll post them here though, just in case someone wants to run answers back and forth.
    16 hrs ? Like
    Paulie Cannoli Joe Buchman writes:

    How much more fundraising before they file the damn thing?

    FYI I have heard a rumor that the legal effort is back in Alicia Dearn’s office. Can anyone verify that?

    I know Rocky left because he wrote me about it, but I gather the other attorney on the conference call from a couple of weeks ago (the one with Jill Stein live and Gary Johnson on tape) has also quit/been fired.

    And can anyone nail down what “soon to be filed” means? That phrase has been used by OAI for about 18 months now. When I asked Rocky about it at that SLC bookstore event we each attended, he said “before the end of March” as I recall.

    See:

    https://independentpoliticalreport.com/…/rocky…/

    So,

    1) Who is in charge of the legal team today?

    2) How much more fundraising do they plan to do?

    3) Will they refund donor funds if they don’t file (I think we all know the answer to this, but FYI, a member of the current LNC told me that when asked Judge Gray’s response was “Of course we will.”

    PS, I’m going to file an article on IPR about Glenn Beck’s appearance on the Howard Stern show on Friday where he espoused (what he described as) Libertarian political beliefs.

    Hope to have that up late tonight,

    Joe

    travellingcircus@gmail.com

    1:47 PM (1 hour ago)

    to Independent, iprtwo, Nicholas, Ron
    Thanks Ron. That was from an LP internal fb discussion but included Joe’s comments from IPR’s email list.

    As I said I don’t want to be a go-between too much but I am relaying this back to IPR writers and Nick Sarwark, who also said he wanted to know if Bruce Fein was still on board or not.

  30. Chuck Moulton

    Okay, now we hear “the next few weeks”. How about this? I will shut up about the Johnson crew’s lack of transparency and failure to deliver for a month if all of you true believers will line up with me to start demanding answers loudly if (when) the lawsuit still isn’t filed one month from now on July 23, 2015 (and stop donating and volunteering for a candidate / organization that doesn’t do what it says). That seems fair.

  31. paulie

    and we still have no signs of how much the Johnson folks have raised or how much they are trying to raise

    As of two months ago what was reported was that they were trying to raise 850k and were about a third of the way there.

    If they are indeed filing in the next few weeks as Ron told me (copied in the last comment), that means either they made a lot more fundraising progress since then or have decided they don’t need quite as much

    we’re not sure who the attorneys will be

    Bruce Fein is still the lead attorney (per comment from Ron above)

    we don’t know what they plan to argue

    Nick Sarwark has read a first draft of the lawsuit. Apparently they are making some revisions.

    As long as the rest of you continue to support him in spite of the accounting shenanigans, lack of transparency, and un-libertarian positions (e.g., the “Fair Tax”), he has no incentive to shape up and we’ll get more of the same the next go around.

    I’ve discussed the “fair tax” issue directly with Gary, and will use any opportunities I get to persuade him it is not a “good starting point” for a conversation about how to simplify our byzantine tax code as well as ease its crushing burden. I’ve repeatedly urged Ron to be more transparent, and to publicly explain the accounting issues fully himself instead of providing partial explanations through me.

    I’ve not committed my support to any candidate for the nomination, but honestly, so far I haven’t seen any that I fully support. Marc Feldman has a respectable career, looks presentable, has gone to a bunch of state conventions, is on the LNC, has been a statewide LP candidate; but he has the $5 cap on contributions to his campaign and thinks it’s a positive that he was a non-voter til age 50. Darryl Perry is a great writer and solidly libertarian on the issues, but he looks like he’s too young (although he isn’t), can’t even afford to go to many state conventions, has been the chair of breakaway liberty parties, and doesn’t have a career and/or LP leadership record that’s likely to impress a lot of people that he is presidential candidate material. There are some other candidates who have hopped the fence from other alt parties with …interesting… plans, various eccentric perenial candidates, and one or two …highly self-confident… individuals who don’t have much track record in the LP, aren’t crossover politicians with a record of being elected by establishment parties, and (at least so far) haven’t gone to many, or even any, state conventions. Gary is not perfect, but so far he still has a lot of things he can point to as positives, including a proven ability to earn media coverage above what some of the other candidates for the nomination are likely to get. If you would like to get in the race, or find some other candidates who will make the race more interesting, I hope you do that; the sooner the better.

    The lawsuit is a scam to line a few people’s pockets.

    Still haven’t seen any proof of this allegation.

    If it’s not a scam, they’d better file a lawsuit pretty damn soon after a year of dragging their feet

    They want enough money to beat back an expected flurry of motions to dismiss.

    or at the very least the goundhog should pop out of its hole, look around, and tell us what the hell is going on.

    I’m for that, and facilitating it as best I can. I have other things I need to do, though.

  32. paulie

    Okay, now we hear “the next few weeks”. How about this? I will shut up about the Johnson crew’s lack of transparency and failure to deliver for a month if all of you true believers will line up with me to start demanding answers loudly if (when) the lawsuit still isn’t filed one month from now on July 23, 2015 (and stop donating and volunteering for a candidate / organization that doesn’t do what it says). That seems fair.

    I don’t expect you to shut up, and I don’t know if “a few weeks” will be less than a month. I’m still volunteering with OAI, but honestly, we aren’t doing much at the state level now; most of the legislatures are done for this year. I am not volunteering with GJ16 if/when it happens, at least not until I have fully decided that I support Gary for the nomination, and that may well not happen until the convention (as was the case in 2012). I may decide to support another candidate at the convention, or ahead of it, if I see one that earns my support. If Gary is our nominee again I’ll help him, and the same will be true for Dr. Feldman, DWP, or possibly some others. There are some candidates I would not even want to help after the nomination, but out of the ones running so far, I don’t see any of the ones that fall in that category as even remotely likely to get the nomination. I will do whatever I can to help all the campaigns for our nomination that rise above my personal acceptability threshold be the best they can be as long as it’s something I can do without endorsing one of them.

    Not sure if that approach makes me a true believer in your book, but it is what it is.

  33. George Phillies

    I am amused to note that July 23,2015 is my 68th birthday.

    I expect to continue to cover the interesting financial features of Libertarian Presidential campaigns for ,any years to come.. Johnson 2012 has made life more interesting by filing yet another set of FEC disclosures showing even more debt.

  34. Mark Axinn

    The OAI/Bruce Fein complaint, as I understand it, is based on a monopoly theory; i.e, that the CPD is in violation of the Sherman Antitrust Act just like the Pro Football League is, because it’s the only game in town.

  35. Andy

    The only candidates to get on the ballot in all 50 states plus DC since 1992 were as follows:

    Ross Perot (1992 independent / 1996 Reform Party)

    Andre Marrou (1992 Libertarian Party)

    Harry Browne (1996 Libertarian Party / The LP had ballot access in all 50 states plus DC in 2000, but due to an internal dispute in the LP of Arizona, the faction of the LP of Arizona that controlled that state’s ballot access placed L. Neil Smith on the ballot instead of Harry Browne. Perhaps if there had been a guarantee of getting in the big Presidential debate if the LP candidate for President had been on the ballot in all 50 states plus DC, maybe the folks in the LP of AZ who controlled the ballot line would have given in and put Harry Browne on the ballot.)

    I’d have to look it up to be sure, but I don’t think Pat Buchanan made it on the ballot in all 50 states plus DC in 2000, and I know that Ralph Nader never made it on the ballot in all 50 states plus DC for any of his runs for President (1996, 2000, 2004, and 2008).

    So setting the criteria for debate inclusion at 50 states plus DC ballot access would not likely lead to over-crowded debates.

  36. Austin Cassidy

    Setting it at 50 states and DC would allow a single state, like Oklahoma perhaps, to jack up the ballot access requirements to impossible levels.

    I don’t think it would cost someone $10 or $20 million dollars to get to 270 EVs. Rocky Anderson made his way onto 15 states in 2012 with a shoestring budget.

    Yes, it also takes supporters. Randall Terry and Lyndon LaRouche have supporters. The folks over at Stormfront would’ve probably been all too happy to bankroll a petition drive in the easiest states if they knew it meant Merlin Miller would’ve gotten to share a stage with President Obama and Mitt Romney.

  37. paulie

    Rocky was not on the ballot for even close to 270 EV. Goode was not on for 270 EV either, albeit close. I agree that 50 states and DC is too harsh. Too easy to make a mistake somewhere.

  38. Andy

    Getting on the ballots in just the states that have the easiest ballot access requirements would not even get close to the possible 270 Electoral Votes.

  39. Pingback: Libertarians, Greens, & ‘Level the Playing Field’ (formerly Americans Elect) file lawsuit against Comm. on Pres. Debates | American Third Party Report

  40. langa

    Yes, it also takes supporters. Randall Terry and Lyndon LaRouche have supporters. The folks over at Stormfront would’ve probably been all too happy to bankroll a petition drive in the easiest states if they knew it meant Merlin Miller would’ve gotten to share a stage with President Obama and Mitt Romney.

    I think you greatly overestimate the resources available to the nuts over at Stormfront. Contrary to SPLC propaganda, which would lead one to believe that there’s a neo-Nazi behind every bush, the number of hardcore white nationalists in this country is absolutely miniscule, and most of them aren’t exactly knocking on the door of the Fortune 500, either.

    In fact, I can’t see any fringe party like the AFP even coming close to the 270 EV threshold, no matter how much incentive they had. Heck, even if all the hardcore socialist splinter parties combined their resources (which there’s very little chance of them doing), I still doubt they could make it.

    I would say, aside from the D’s and R’s, the only parties that could realistically get into the debates with the 270 EV standard would be the LP, the GP, probably the CP, and possibly a very wealthy independent candidate like Bloomberg.

  41. Andy Craig Post author

    Another thought that occurred to me, with LtPF’s proposed signature competition. The complaint correctly notes that part of the current rules (and part of what we’re alleging is being violated) is that debate sponsors can’t use the nomination of a candidate by a particular party as the reason for inclusion. e.g., they can’t outright say “The Republican and Democratic nominees will be invited because they’re the Republican and Democratic nominees.”

    That is, however, exactly the system proposed by LtPF (though pointing it out feels like beating a dead horse): their proposal is that the D and R would have automatic inclusion, and wouldn’t participate in the signature competition business for the third podium.

    I’m just glad they’re able to separate that awful proposal from pursuing these specific legal complaints against the CPD/FEC, and that because of that the LP is able to participate and benefit.

  42. Austin Cassidy

    I didn’t say just to get the easiest states, I said go after the easiest that add up to 270.

    There are absolutely different degrees of difficulty and a candidate trying to secure a spot in the debates would choose the easiest path to 270… whatever that happened to be. There are easier states and there are harder states.

    Oklahoma is very hard. Colorado is very easy. Skip California and Texas, go after Florida and Ohio. The signature requirement in North Carolina is something like 90,000 for a state with 14 electoral votes. Tennessee’s 11 electoral votes can be had for less than 300 signatures.

    Rocky Anderson didn’t get close to 270, but he did get on in states with what appear to total 147 electoral votes. His campaign was beyond bare bones.

  43. Austin Cassidy

    Libertarians are supposed to think about things with the market in mind, correct?

    So… are you telling me that no one will spend $500,000 to get on the ballot in enough states to secure 270 electoral votes as a gateway to $100 million worth of free publicity?

  44. Richard Winger

    In 2000, Pat Buchanan missed just one state, Michigan. The Reform Party was on the ballot in Michigan but the evil Secretary of State said she couldn’t tell who the Reform Party presidential nominee was, so she left him off. Somehow the FEC figured out that Buchanan was the Reform Party nominee and it gave him the $16,000,000 that was owed because the Reform Party had got over 5% in 1996.

    Even major party presidential nominees have sometimes not been on the ballot in all 50 states. That includes Lyndon Johnson in 1964 (not on in Alabama), Harry Truman in 1948 (not on in Alabama), and William Howard Taft in 1912 (not on in California and South Dakota).

    Rocky Anderson in 2012 only had 8 successful petition drives: Idaho, Minnesota, New Jersey, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, and Washington. He got on in other states by being nominated by a ballot-qualified party that already existed and that liked him, plus he got on in the two states that just require a filing fee, Louisiana and Colorado.

  45. Andy Craig Post author

    579,000 signatures to get on the ballot in all 50 states from scratch according to BAN. Slightly lower now that OK lowered their petition, but not that much in the grand scheme. You couldn’t do that for $500k. A few million maybe, if you had a lot of volunteer grassroots support. Without that, you’d be looking at spending more money that it takes to get an A-list celebrity to star in a major-studio blockbuster movie, like AE did in 2012. Even generously cutting it in half on the idea of only getting to 270EVs, it’s hard to imagine more than two independents/new-parties pulling it off in the same year, and even that’s pretty unlikely.

    How many people would really try that? I have a hard time seeing any scenario, where the number of candidates tops 7 or 8. The most likely number I’d bet on is still 4: R, D, L, G.

    Americans Elect and similar efforts will still be hampered by the minor problem that their dream candidate doesn’t exist, and wouldn’t have the popular support they suppose even if such a candidate did step forward (which is why none did).

    http://ballot-access.org/2014/11/13/2016-national-presidential-ballot-access-requirements-are-lower-than-in-2012/

  46. Andy Craig Post author

    Green release:

    WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Green Party of the United States has joined in a lawsuit filed in a federal district court in Washington, D.C. on Monday alleging that third-party and independent candidates have been illegally excluded from the televised presidential debates in general elections.

    The lawsuit charges that the Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD) and certain of its directors have violated federal election law, including a Federal Election Commission (FEC) regulation requiring organizations like the CPD to be “nonpartisan” and to use “objective criteria” to determine who can be in their debates.

    The federal court complaint cites extensive evidence showing that the CPD is not nonpartisan and instead promotes the candidates of the Democratic and Republican parties while excluding all others from the debates, and that since 2000 it has used a criterion that only the Democratic and Republican nominees could reasonably achieve in order to illegally exclude third-party and independent candidates from the debates.

    Green Party presidential nominee Jill Stein and running mate Cheri Honkala were excluded from the CPD debates in 2012.

    According to the lawsuit, the failure of the FEC, whose commissioners are members of the Democratic and Republican parties, to act on an administrative complaint against the CPD and a petition for rulemaking was arbitrary, capricious, an abuse of discretion, and otherwise contrary to law.

    Plaintiffs have asked the Court to either direct the FEC to find that the CPD and certain of its directors have violated the law, or permit plaintiffs to bring a civil action directly against the CPD and those directors. The suit also asks the Court to direct the FEC to open a rulemaking proceeding to revise its rules governing presidential debates.

    Level the Playing Field (LPF), the lead plaintiff, is a nonpartisan, nonprofit corporation not affiliated with any candidate or candidate committee. Its purpose is to promote reforms that allow for greater competition and choice in elections for federal office, particularly for the presidency and vice presidency. LPF is the successor to Americans Elect, which obtained signatures sufficient to qualify for ballot access in 41 states in connection with the 2012 presidential election.

    The Libertarian National Committee, Inc., which controls and manages the affairs and resources of the United States Libertarian Party, is also a plaintiff.

    “The CPD uses its control of the debates to exclude qualified candidates and promote its favorite corporate-money candidates. Their exclusionary tactics keep voters from hearing the voices of candidates who are offering ideas outside of the two- party duopoly,” said Dr. Stein. “Polls show that American people are disgusted with the Democrats and Republicans and demand a viable third party. The actions of the CPD make the debates less informative and perpetuate the status quo. Opening up the debates will be a powerful force to revive our embattled democracy.”

    (See “Americans Continue to Say a Third Political Party Is Needed,” Gallup, Sept. 24, 2014, http://www.gallup.com/poll/177284/americans-continue-say-third-political-party-needed.aspx)

    “Elections should be decided by informed voters, not by party insiders who manipulate debate rules to keep voters in the dark. Open and inclusive debates will revitalize American democracy. In 2016 we have a chance to get it right,” said Karen Young, co-chair of the Green Party.

    See also:

    Green Party, 2012 Green presidential nominees are among the plaintiffs in the “Our America Initiative” law suit against the Commission on Presidential Debates
    Press release: Green Party of the United States, April 21, 2015
    http://www.gp.org/newsroom/press-releases/details/4/797

    No Debate: How the Republican and Democratic Parties Secretly Control the Presidential Debates
    Book by George Farah, Seven Stories Press (2004)

  47. Austin Cassidy

    “579,000 signatures to get on the ballot in all 50 states from scratch according to BAN. Slightly lower now that OK lowered their petition, but not that much in the grand scheme. You couldn’t do that for $500k. A few million maybe, if you had a lot of volunteer grassroots support. Without that, you’d be looking at spending more money that it takes to get an A-list celebrity to star in a major-studio blockbuster movie, like AE did in 2012. Even generously cutting it in half on the idea of only getting to 270EVs, it’s hard to imagine more than two independents/new-parties pulling it off in the same year, and even that’s pretty unlikely.”

    Andy —

    Based on the BAN list, I believe you could probably get to 270 EVs with 100,000 signatures or less. And I’m pretty sure almost any radical group could do that for ~$500k, with only minimal grassroots support and a whole bunch of paid petitioning.

  48. Austin Cassidy

    Here’s a pathway to 271 Electoral votes that would take approximately 95,000 signatures and $1,500 in fees. Let’s say, to be safe, we would want to collect double what’s required — 190,000 signatures.

    Let’s also say that our radical anti-abortionist (or 9/11 truther) volunteers only get 40,000 signatures on their own.

    Paid petitioners getting $3 a signature could round up the rest with relative ease and leave us with $50,000 in the bank…

    Alabama – 5,000 signatures – 9 EVs
    Alaska – 3,005 signatures – 3 EVs
    Arkansas – 1,000 signatures – 6 EVs
    Colorado – $1,000 fee – 8 EVs
    Florida – organize a party – 29 EVs
    Idaho – 1,000 signatures – 4 EVs
    Iowa – 1,500 signatures – 6 EVs
    Kansas – 5,000 signatures – 6 Evs
    Kentucky – 5,000 signatures – 8 EVs
    Louisiana – $500 fee – 8 EVs
    Maine – 4,000 signatures – 4 EVs
    Maryland – 10,000 signatures – 10 EVs
    Massachusetts – 10,000 signatures – 11 EVs
    Minnesota – 2,000 signatures – 10 EVs
    Mississippi – 1,000 signatures – 6 EVs
    Nebraska – 2,500 signatures – 5 EVs
    Nevada – 5,431 signatures – 6 EVs
    New Hampshire – 3,000 signatures – 4 EVs
    New Jersey – 800 signatures – 15 EVs
    New Mexico – 2,565 signatures – 5 EVs
    New York – 15,000 signatures – 29 EVs
    Ohio – 5,000 signatures – 18 EVs
    Rhode Island – 1,000 signatures – 4 EVs
    South Dakota – 1,075 signatures – 3 EVs
    Tennessee – 275 signatures – 11 EVs
    Utah – 1,000 signatures – 5 EVs
    Vermont – organize a party – 3 EVs
    Virginia – 5,000 signatures – 13 EVs
    Washington – 1,000 signatures – 12 EVs
    Wisconsin – 2,000 signatures – 10 EVs

  49. Andy

    Austin keeps bringing up a hypothetical “9/11 Truther” candidate, as if this is a bad thing (which it is not). I just want to point out that there have already been “9/11 Truther” candidates who have been on enough ballots to have had a theoretical chance at being elected President. Those candidates were:

    Michael Badnarik (2004 – Libertarian Party)

    Cynthia McKinney (2008 – Green Party)

    Chuck Baldwin (2008 – Constitution Party)

    Now that I think of it, I recall Ralph Nader questioning the official 9/11 story as well.

  50. Andy

    If 270 EC votes is “too easy,” then make the standard all 50 states plus DC.

    We probably will not end up with a perfect system regardless of what change is made, but I think we can all agree the the current Commission on Presidential Debates standard is grossly unfair, and I’d say illegal as well since they are supposed to be a non-partisan non-profit (not to mention the use of tax payer funds to have the debates), and that the “debates” that they held have been a sham. I’d rather see a debate with 10 candidates on stage which includes “fringe” candidates like Rocky Anderson and Randall Terry and Merlin Miller along with the candidates for the Democratic, Republican, Libertarian, Green, and Constitution parties than see the farce of a “debate” with only the Democratic and Republican party candidates continue. I’m sick of the charade, and I think that there are millions of people out there who’d agree with me on this.

  51. Andy

    Austin’s example above calls for about 95,000 petition signatures. This is 95,000 VALID petition signatures. Petition signatures can be thrown out for a variety of reasons, so to collect 95,000 good ones, you’d have to gather quite a bit more than 95,000 raw signatures.

    You’d also have to recruit a slate of Electoral College candidates for each state, and you’d have to get them to fill out the necessary paper work.

    It is more work to do all of this than Austin is making it out to be.

  52. Andy

    I just looked at Austin’s post again and I noticed that he did call for collecting 190,000, but I still think he’s underestimating the work and money involved. If it was easy more people would be doing it. Sure, more could be motivated by the prospect of automatic debate inclusion, but even so, I have a hard time seeing more than 10 candidates, and we know that Democrat and Republican primary debates have had at least this many.

    If this really became a problem they could have eliminator rounds, where say the first debate has all 10 candidates, and then viewers get to vote (like American Idol or something like that) for which candidates get to move on to the next debate.

  53. paulie

    So… are you telling me that no one will spend $500,000 to get on the ballot in enough states to secure 270 electoral votes

    Yes, I’ll say that the easiest 270 EV will cost quite a bit more than 500k.

  54. paulie

    In 2000, Pat Buchanan missed just one state, Michigan. The Reform Party was on the ballot in Michigan but the evil Secretary of State said she couldn’t tell who the Reform Party presidential nominee was, so she left him off.

    Same one as in 2012, or is it a position that is hereditary among a coven of evil witches (with apologies to actual witches)?

  55. paulie

    Austin,

    Sorry, but you don’t know the signature market. You’re forgetting little things like validity margin (100% or more if you don’t know the petitioners), town and county distribution requirements for signatures, state validation and challenge shenanigans, technicalities for which valid signatures get disqualified, rules about who can and can’t sign. Slates of electors. Rules about who can and can’t collect signatures (out of staters banned in some states, etc), notarization, weather, problems with petition locations. Collecting the signatures from petitioners and paying them. Getting them to and from different states where they have to petition and housing them, or finding local people and training them. Distributing signatures to the SOS – or in some cases counties or towns, then picking them up from those to give to the SOS. Keeping people to defend against a challenge. Printing petitions and making sure they comply with the law or picking up the forms from the SOS where you can’t print your own. Having someone pre-validate the signatures to make sure your petitioners don’t rip you off, and that’s where you can even get the database.

    There’s a reason why AE spent what they did; and they hadn’t even gotten to some of the difficult states yet.

    Austin, you should listen to the people who have done this all over the country such as Andy J. and myself, and those who have spent a lifetime studying the ins and outs of it such as Richard Winger – well actually, only Richard Winger, since there is simply no one else who knows as many details about this.

  56. paulie

    I just looked at Austin’s post again and I noticed that he did call for collecting 190,000

    Which would already be more than 500k at $3 per sig (190×3=570k) but that’s before you get into the incidentals, such as hiring middlemen to find and manage petitioners. They like to charge as much or more as the petitioners themselves, sometimes several times as much.

    Like I said, AE spent what they did for a reason.

  57. Austin Cassidy

    Paulie, if you read what I wrote above it’s assuming the need to collect an average of double the required signatures… taking it from 95k to 190k, and then assuming 40k of those could be done via volunteers. It’s all a very rough estimate, but my point is that it would take hundreds of thousands and not millions to secure a minimum level of access.

    In reality, I think Operation Rescue could collect all 190k and then some more via volunteers in order to get Randall Terry in an aborted fetus costume onto national television for a few hours.

    The major party candidates have refused to debate real, substantive third party candidates with serious resumes and meaningful public support… like Ross Perot, Gary Johnson and Ralph Nader.

    There is absolutely no way in hell that they will ever agree to a system that allows anyone who can get on the ballot in enough states to reach 270 electoral votes to get onto that debate stage. And that’s because it would absolutely mean debating a half-dozen very fringe candidates like Randall Terry… like a Lyndon LaRouche… a David Duke… a Bo Gritz… and a Larry Flynt.

    Anyone with $10 million dollars of net worth and a big inflated ego could try to buy their way in like miniature Donald Trumps. A stage packed with Wayne Allyn Roots of all different political stripes.

  58. Austin Cassidy

    I think I’m going to leave this discussion at this point because I can see everyone is dug into their positions, and frankly this is all academic.

    I wish you good luck with the lawsuit, I hope the Commission lowers the polling percentage to a more reasonable level and perhaps even requires that the polls be done in a more scientific way — perhaps by a consortium of universities and including all viable candidates. It would be a wonderful thing to see 3 or 4 candidates on the debate stage next year.

  59. Richard Winger

    Austin, I hope you don’t leave quite yet. You mention Randall Terry, David Duke, and Bo Gritz. They already tried to get on the ballot in the general election for president and none of them came close to being on in states with 270 electoral votes.

  60. Joseph Buchman

    Has anyone yet proposed something higher than 270? That might be the easier, more objective (than polling), and reasonably restrictive standard. Perhaps 370 electoral college votes? Or “on the ballot in 45 states.”

    Would those be better objective standards than either polling, or the risk of too many candidates with a 270 standard?

  61. paulie

    Paulie, if you read what I wrote above it’s assuming the need to collect an average of double the required signatures… taking it from 95k to 190k, and then assuming 40k of those could be done via volunteers.

    Good luck. Even the LP doesn’t get that many volunteer signatures.

    It’s all a very rough estimate, but my point is that it would take hundreds of thousands and not millions to secure a minimum level of access.

    Your model does not build in many other factors that I mentioned. I have a better sense of what it would take because I have dealt with every aspect of ballot access petitioning all over the country for 17 years.

    In reality, I think Operation Rescue could collect all 190k and then some more via volunteers in order to get Randall Terry in an aborted fetus costume onto national television for a few hours.

    Randall Terry had to hire petitioners for the few states he got on the ballot, and almost all of his signatures in each state were paid for.

    I hope the Commission lowers the polling percentage to a more reasonable level and perhaps even requires that the polls be done in a more scientific way — perhaps by a consortium of universities and including all viable candidates.

    See link above about the increasing unreliability of polls.

    There is absolutely no way in hell that they will ever agree to a system that allows anyone who can get on the ballot in enough states to reach 270 electoral votes to get onto that debate stage. And that’s because it would absolutely mean debating a half-dozen very fringe candidates like Randall Terry… like a Lyndon LaRouche… a David Duke… a Bo Gritz… and a Larry Flynt.

    Anyone with $10 million dollars of net worth and a big inflated ego could try to buy their way in like miniature Donald Trumps. A stage packed with Wayne Allyn Roots of all different political stripes.

    You’re still underestimating how difficult it is to get on the ballot in enough states for that. There are a lot of egomaniacs who try. They usually wind up on the ballot in a tiny handful of states because they vastly underestimate the difficulty. Only very few get on in many states at all and in those cases they are billionaires, not decimillionaires (unless you get one who’s crazy enough to blow their net worth on one election’s worth of ballot access, which has never happened). Sure, the debates would be added incentive, but they would still have to have the money and organization to get it done in the first place.

  62. Austin Cassidy

    Yes, they tried and failed at a time when getting on the ballot in that many states guaranteed them absolutely nothing. Offer them a guaranteed spot on the national stage, and literally hundreds of millions of dollars worth of exposure for their various screwball causes, and they will absolutely secure ballot access to get there.

    Or… they won’t, because states will radically tighten ballot access laws to prevent it from happening.

    Either way, this will never be a issue because this proposal will never get anywhere. So I’m not going to sweat the details too much. As I said before, It would be a wonderful thing to see 3 or 4 candidates on the debate stage next year. I hope somehow that happens.

  63. Andy

    The attitude that Austin displays toward those he considers to be fringe candidates is the same attitude that Democrats and Republicans display toward all candidates who are not Democrats or Republicans.

  64. Joshua

    @Andy: I don’t think Americans Elect had missed any ballot access deadlines by the time they ended their nominations process in May 2012. If I understand correctly, New York, where they hadn’t started yet, requires all signatures to be garnered in a limited period of time during the summer, which had not yet begun by the time AE gave up.

  65. Chuck Moulton

    paulie wrote (6/23/2015 at 3:45 pm):

    Ron Nielson:

    The legal team is modifying the complaint with some additional actions and they are looking to file in the next few weeks.

    Chuck Moulton wrote (6/23/2015 at 4:09 pm):

    Okay, now we hear “the next few weeks”. How about this? I will shut up about the Johnson crew’s lack of transparency and failure to deliver for a month if all of you true believers will line up with me to start demanding answers loudly if (when) the lawsuit still isn’t filed one month from now on July 23, 2015 (and stop donating and volunteering for a candidate / organization that doesn’t do what it says). That seems fair.

    It is now July 23, 2015. Is the lawsuit filed?

  66. paulie

    It is now July 23, 2015. Is the lawsuit filed?

    Late July is still the latest I have heard. I don’t know where you got the date July 23; I think you made that up. And even if it was July 23 … it’s 2 AM, so I would not expect it to be filed before the courthouses even open, LOL.

  67. Chuck Moulton

    Paulie wrote:

    Late July is still the latest I have heard. I don’t know where you got the date July 23; I think you made that up.

    The term “a few weeks” in common English is generally considered to mean less than a month. If it were more than a month, you’d expect that person to say “a month” or “a few months”. July 23 is a month from June 23, so that makes it a pretty reasonable date to conclude that anyone who said “a few weeks” is full of shit.

  68. paulie

    I see “a few weeks” as more open ended. As in “we don’t know for sure, but probably within the next month or two.” 5 or 6 weeks would qualify as a few, I would think. What I have been seeing lately is “late July,” although I don’t know for sure that it means absolutely 100% guaranteed to be before August 1st. I’m hoping it will be by then, though, just so I can stop catching flak like this.

    I think the attorneys involved are more focused on getting it right and preparing defenses for every conceivable counterattack than they are about hitting a deadline. There may have been some schedule and/or health issues involved, various disagreements between members of the legal team and changes in lineup, and so on. But, I’ve seen “late July” mentioned recently – I believe by Charlie and/or Ron – so hopefully there won’t be more delays.

  69. Chuck Moulton

    Words have meaning. Even if it weren’t the case that “a few weeks” implies less than a month because one could have said “a month”, “a couple months”, or “a few months” instead, the meaning of “a few” is generally understood to mean 2-5.

    xkcd 1070:

    So you see “in a few weeks” as a blank check to take however long they want.

    I try to give people the benefit of the doubt in general. However, I have limits on that so people can’t take advantage of me too much. The Gary Johnson people have long since exceeded any charitable interpretations.

    They are full of shit. They are liars. They are taking you all for a ride. The sooner you admit that, the sooner you can stop being played for a sucker and get back your dignity.

  70. Chuck Moulton

    Paulie, if you don’t accept 1 month as the limit beyond which “a few weeks” becomes exceeded, please let me know at what date you will come to the conclusion that the Gary Johnson folks have lied to you.

  71. paulie

    That’s a fair question. I don’t have a ready answer. If it drags well into August, I won’t be happy.

    I note even your source says up to five weeks so it’s obviously not true that a few weeks has to always mean less than a month.

    A few months could be 6 or 8 months, I would think. I see a few weeks the same way. Why not just say a month or a few months if it will be a month or more? Maybe because at that point you are hoping it will be less than a month but don’t know for sure. If I was talking about a time frime of 2 to 6 weeks I would say a few weeks, not a few months. A few months may mean 2 to 6 or 2 to 8 months or something like that. I don’t know that it has a precise definition but I agree with you that it should not be completely open ended either.

  72. paulie

    I try to give people the benefit of the doubt in general. However, I have limits on that so people can’t take advantage of me too much. The Gary Johnson people have long since exceeded any charitable interpretations.

    They are full of shit. They are liars. They are taking you all for a ride. The sooner you admit that, the sooner you can stop being played for a sucker and get back your dignity.

    Suppose you are correct. How would this work?

    If Ron is just scamming money and no lawsuit will ever be filed, it seems to me that it would put a big crimp on Gary if he runs again, and he will get dogged by questions about the lawsuit that will drag down his campaign.

    I suppose it is possible that Gary does not actually intend to run again, in which case maybe such a scam could fly for a while. But it would run out of steam after people start giving up on Gary announcing again. No?

    At this point I am still thinking you are jumping to conclusions, although I can understand why you would. If you turn out to be right, I’ll admit it, but I don’t think we have come to that point yet. If you turn out to be wrong, and the lawsuit does get filed, what will you say then?

  73. Chuck Moulton

    What I will say if the lawsuit is eventually filed is “better late than never”.

    But filing a lawsuit far after they said they would still falls short on what they claimed. If a student turns in homework or a paper after the deadline, I don’t award him full credit. In fact, doing so habitually leads to a failing grade in the class.

    Set realistic expectations. Underpromise and overdeliver.

    The Johnson folks do the opposite. When his staff doesn’t deliver things on the timetable they set, it does not give me confidence in Johnson’s ability to hire staff and lead, which certainly doesn’t give me confidence he would do a good job as President of the United States.

  74. paulie

    I don’t know that any of the hoped-for filing dates that have been floated as (it turned out, overly) optimistic projections were ever touted to be deadlines. I would have preferred earlier, too, but it’s more important to do it right than to do it by a self-imposed deadline, especially when no one ever said it was a deadline to begin with.

    The lawsuit will take money, money needs to be raised, and raising money requires projecting optimism. Apparently there hae been a lot of unanticipated problems. I am hoping it will still happen, and happen soon. If it doesn’t, I’ll find it increasingly less likely that I can support Johnson for the nomination.

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