JOHNSON CAMPAIGN FILES FEC AND FCC COMPLAINTS OVER CBS DEBATE EXCLUSION

November 15, 2011, Santa Fe, NM -- The Presidential campaign of former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson is filing complaints with both the Federal Election Commission (FEC) and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to protest Johnson’s exclusion from Saturday’s Republican debate in South Carolina.

Citing prohibitions against corporate contributions, the campaign’s FEC complaint makes the argument that, by arbitrarily choosing who benefited from valuable air time during the broadcast debate and excluding others, CBS was “directly and significantly supporting those candidates it favors, and advocating the nomination of one of their favorites and opposing the nomination of Complainant, whom CBS evidently disfavors.”

Similarly, in a complaint filed with the FCC, the Johnson campaign asserts that “The public owns the airways over which CBS broadcasts, and the public deserves to be free from bias- favoring some candidates over others- as well as illegal support of certain presidential candidates on national network television.”

In a statement, Johnson senior campaign advisor Ron Nielson said, “As this campaign progresses, it is clear that nationally televised debates are having a tremendous impact. Candidates are moving up and down in the polls with every debate, fundraising is impacted dramatically, and Republican voters obviously remain undecided. When one looks at the inconsistent and arbitrary criteria networks such as CBS have used to decide who gets to be on the stage for the debates, it is apparent that decisions are being made in board rooms that are having the effect of ‘preselecting’ candidates.

“That is just wrong. We owe it to our supporters and to the process to take this basic unfairness and clear bias to those agencies whose job it is to insure that the power of the airwaves is not being misused in an arbitrary manner in the Republican nominating process.”

Copies of the Johnson campaign’s complaints to the FEC and FCC are included below.


For more information, please visit www.garyjohnson2012.com.


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About Presidential Candidate Gary Johnson: Gary Johnson, a Republican and two-term Governor of New Mexico from 1994-2002, has been a consistent and outspoken advocate for limited, efficient government and personal liberty.


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BEFORE THE FEDERAL ELECTION COMMISSION OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

COMPLAINT

Gary Johnson, an American adult citizen of the State of New Mexico, files this Complaint with the Federal Election Commission in accordance with the provisions of 2 U.S.C. §437 (g ) (a) (1) in the belief that Respondents violated provisions of the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971, as amended, 2 U.S.C. §§431, et seq. (hereinafter, “The Act”).

RESPONDENTS

CBS, INC (hereinafter “CBS”) is a corporation with principal offices at 51 West 52nd Street, New York, New York 10019 engaged in the business of television broadcasting.

FACTS

Complainant is the former two-term Governor of the State of New Mexico, and a nationally-recognized candidate for the nomination of the Republican Party for President of the United States. Complainant has participated, along with the other leading candidates (including Governor Mitt Romney, Congresswoman Michelle Bachman, Governor Rick Perry, Mr. Herman Cain and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, to name a few) in debates televised on television networks other than Respondent.

On Saturday, November 12, 2011 Respondent CBS televised on its national network another debate, but instead of including all leading candidates has elected to arbitrarily and capriciously exclude some candidates and include others. In so doing, CBS is, without any other explanation, choosing to support certain candidates. By excluding viable candidates like Complainant, who has been included by cable networks in their debates CBS is directly and significantly supporting those candidates it favors, and advocating the nomination of one of their favorites and opposing the nomination of Complainant, whom CBS evidently disfavors. In so doing, CBS is making an illegal corporate in-kind contribution to those favored candidates. The value of this contribution vastly exceeds the contribution limit that applies to any category of lawful donor.

2 U.S.C. §431 (8) (A) (i) defines a “contribution” as “any gift, subscription, loan, advance, or deposit of money or anything of value made by any person for the purpose of influencing any election for Federal office.” No rational person could possibly argue that exposure during an hour-long debate televised in prime time on the CBS network is NOT something of value. Indeed, CBS sells advertising spots during prime time for huge sums, and makes and reaps signifigant revenues in doing so. By any standard, this airtime is a thing of value within the ambit of that phrase in this statute. If all viable candidates were being included in the debate that might lead to a different conclusion, but by excluding candidates CBS disfavors –opposes—and including those it favors –supports—Respondent is violating the Act.

Complaint by Governor Gary E. Johnson to Federal Communication Communications

The Federal Communications Commission has the authority to regulate fair access to the airwaves of broadcast by network television networks

Complainant is the former two- term Governor of the State of New Mexico, and a nationally-recognized candidate for the nomination of the Republican Party for President of the United States. Complainant has participated, along with the other leading candidates (including Governor Mitt Romney, Congresswoman Michelle Bachman, Governor Rick Perry, Mr. Herman Cain and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, to name a few) in debates televised on cable broadcast networks .

On Saturday, November 12, 2011 Respondent CBS- who’s broadcasts are regulated by the FCC- televised on its national network another debate, but instead of including all leading candidates has elected to arbitrarily and capriciously exclude some candidates and include others. In so doing, CBS is, without any other explanation, choosing to favor certain candidates. By excluding viable candidates like Complainant, who has been included by other cable networks in their debates .

CBS is directly and significantly supporting those candidates it favors, and advocating the nomination of one of they support and opposing the nomination of Complainant. In so doing, CBS is making an illegal corporate in-kind contribution to those favored candidates. The value of this contribution – millions of dollars of publicity and exposure vastly exceeds the contribution limit that applies to any category of lawful donor.

2 U.S.C. §431 (8) (A) (i) defines a “contribution” as “any gift, subscription, loan, advance, or deposit of money or anything of value made by any person for the purpose of influencing any election for Federal office.” No rational person could possibly argue that exposure during an hour-long debate televised in prime time on the CBS network is NOT something of value.

Indeed, CBS sells advertising spots during prime time for huge sums. Advertising—selling airtime (exposure) for money demonstrates this value. By any standard, this airtime is a thing of value within the ambit of that phrase in this statute. If all viable candidates were being included in the debate that might lead to a different conclusion, but by excluding certain candidates in including others, CBS is illegally aiding those it includes by giving them something of value-airtime worth millions of dollars. Corporate contributions in this case in-kind are a violation of the Federal Election law-addressed in a different complaint.CBS is clearly violating federal election law.

The public owns the airways over which CBS broadcasts, and the public deserves to be free from bias- favoring some candidates over others- as well as illegal support of certain presidential candidates on national network television. Unfair access to the airwaves of broadcast by network television is clearly an issue within the FCC’s mandate. The illegal corporate contribution CBS is making in including some candidates and not others is addressed in a separate formal complaint to the Federal Elections Commission. The FCC should take appropriate action against CBS.