Lawsuit Alleges Presidential Debates Violate Election Law - State and Federal Communications

June 24, 2015  •  

Lawsuit Alleges Presidential Debates Violate Election Law

debate TV setOn June 22, 2015, a lawsuit was filed against the Federal Election Commission (FEC) asking the court to direct the FEC to find the Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD) has made and accepted prohibited in-kind contributions when hosting presidential debates.

The plaintiff, Level the Playing Field, alleges the CPD violated 11 C.F.R. §110.13 by “staging candidate debates in a partisan manner and without pre-established, objective criteria.”

The lawsuit asserts, “[T]he CPD has rigged the rules governing who can be in the debates to ensure that no candidate other than the Democratic and Republican nominees will ever be invited to the debates. … [T]he CPD’s use of millions of dollars of corporate money to provide free televised campaign appearances to the Democratic and Republican presidential and vice presidential candidates violates [the Federal Election Campaign Act] – by making illegal corporate contributions to political candidates; by making illegal corporate campaign expenditures; by accepting illegal corporate campaign contributions; and by failing to disclose its contributions and expenditures.”

Level the Playing Field (LPF) is a nonprofit entity describing its purpose as the promotion of reforms allowing “for greater competition and choice in elections for federal office, particularly for the presidency and vice presidency.” Joining LPF in the lawsuit are the Green Party of the United States, the Libertarian National Committee, Inc., and Dr. Peter Ackerman.

Photo of a 2008 presidential debate stage by Ericci8996 on Wikimedia Commons.

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