Note: The Commission on Presidential Debates is a charade. It may have a name that sounds official but in fact it is a corporation created by Democratic and Republican political operatives and funded by big business interests to keep independent parties like the Green and Libertatian Party as well as independent candidates out of the presidential debates. Jill Stein announced that she would be running for the Green Party nomination for president in 2016 on the same day the Green Party announced it was joining the lawsuit. In 2012 she and her running mate, Cheri Honkola, were arrested seeking to participate in the presidential debate held at Hofstra University.
The corporate media has played along with these charade debates that exclude candidates rather than insisting that all candidates with ballot access be allowed to participate. A lawsuit has been filed to require the so-called Commission become non-partisan and use objective criteria to determine debate participation.
A record number of Americans now consider themselves independent of the Democratic and Republican parties. Forty-two percent say they are independents while only 30 percent consider themselves Democrats and 26 percent consider themselves Republicans. In addition, 60 percent of Americans want a third party candidate in 2016, also a record. This makes increasingly difficult for the Commission to justify excluding candidates independent of the duopoly. This would be long overdue changes because non-participation in presidential debates is a barrier to fair elections. KZ
Green Party and Libertarian Party Joins Level the Playing Field Lawsuit to Open the Presidential Debates
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.”
“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.
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
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