Karger Files FEC Complaint Against Rupert Murdoch and Fox News

Karger Files 158 Page FEC Complaint Against Murdoch and Fox News
Requests FEC Investigation for Debate Exclusion

 
NEW YORK, NY - Presidential candidate Fred Karger today sent a 158 page sworn, notarized formal request for investigation to the Federal Election Commission in Washington, DC protesting his exclusion from Fox's GOP Presidential Debate last Thursday in Ames, Iowa.

Karger had more than met Fox News Channel's "pre-established objective criteria" when he hit the threshold of averaging 1 percent in 5 national polls on August 4, 2011. He communicated this to Fox executives and the other debate sponsors in two separate letters dated August 5, 2011 and August 8, 2011, ahead of the August 9, 2011 - 4:00 pm CDT cutoff.  Fox News Channel then changed its rules so that Karger could not join its debate.

Today at 11:00 am EDT, Karger personally delivered a copy of his formal complaint with attachments to Mr. Murdoch at his News Corporation offices in New York.

Fred Karger dropping off a copy of his FEC complaint and a letter for Rupert Murdoch this morning at News Corporation World Headquarters (owner of Fox News), 1211 Avenue of the Americas, NY, NY.


In separate letters (copies below) to Murdoch and other Fox executives as well as to the six FEC Commissioners, Karger and his attorneys stated their case for an immediate investigation of Fox.  The FEC was asked to expedite its investigation because Fox News is holding its next debate on September 22, 2011 in Orlando, Florida.

Karger stated in his letter to the FEC:

“I am the first openly gay major party candidate to ever run for President of the United States.  I have experienced many doors slammed in my face by individuals and outside political organizations during the past eighteen months, but this blatant affront by Fox News executives smacks of discrimination and I hope the Commission will investigate post-haste.”




August 18, 2011

Mr. Rupert Murdoch
Mr. Roger Ailes
Mr. Michael Clemente
Fox News Channel
1211 Avenue of the Americas
New York, NY 10036
    
Enclosed please find my 158 page signed and notarized complaint that was overnighted to the Federal Election Commission in Washington, DC today.  In it, I demonstrate that Fox News Channel changed its “pre-established, objective criteria” as soon as I submitted my August 5, 2011 letter proving that I had met all your requirements for participation in the August 11, 2011 debate in Ames, Iowa.  

Since I was not allowed to participate, the debate no longer appears exempt from federal campaign contribution laws.  That could mean that Fox News Channel has made illegal in-kind corporate contributions to the eight debate participants of upwards of $100 million.

Two hours of free primetime television to an audience of 5.1 million viewers, weeks of media coverage before and after the debate, facilities rental, the construction of the debate stage, salaries, travel, insurance, equipment, the filing room, the spin room and so much more would all amount to in-kind contributions to the eight presidential candidates.   

We tried repeatedly over a several week period to contact Fox News Channel personnel concerning my qualifications for the debate without success.  After I met your “pre-established objective criteria,” I wrote two letters; one on August 5th and the other August 8th and received no response.   My staff even called various Fox News Channel offices and bureaus repeatedly.  Still no response.

When I did not meet the criteria for your May 5, 2011 debate in Greenville, South Carolina I did not object. When I did not meet CNN’s very specific “pre-established objective criteria” for its June 13, 2011 debate in Manchester, New Hampshire, I did not object then either.  But when you changed the criteria after I qualified for the August 13th debate, I strongly object.  

That is why I have requested the Federal Election Commission investigate this entire matter.  The selection of the Republican nominee for President of the United States should be an open, honest and fair process.

We have received a tremendous amount of encouragement from thousands of supporters through online petitions and facebook comments.  Thousands more have reached out to us urging us to file this complaint with the FEC.  I cannot let them down.

We look forward to hearing your response.

Sincerely,


Fred Karger




August 18, 2011

Chair Cynthia Bauerly
Commissioner Caroline Hunter
Commissioner Mathew Petersen
Commissioner Donald McGahn
Commissioner Steven Walter
Commissioner Ellen Weintraub
Federal Election Commission
999 E Street, NW
Washington, DC  20463


Dear Commissioners:


Please find attached my 158 page sworn complaint against the Fox News Channel.  The respondents are Fox News executives; Messrs. Murdoch, Ailes and Clemente.  Because of the fast approaching date of Fox News’ next debate on September 22, 2011 in Orlando, Florida, I do hereby request an expedited Federal Election Commission investigation of my complaint.

Fox News Channel, the lead sponsor of last week’s Iowa Republican Presidential debate, released its “pre-established objective criteria” to participate in its debate to the Des Moines Register on July 23, 2011, approximately two weeks before the August 11th debate.  

      1. Registered with the Federal Elections Commission as a presidential exploratory committee or presidential campaign

      2. Meet all U.S. Constitutional requirements

      3. Garnered at least an average of one percent in five national polls based on most recent polling leading up to the registration day

On August 5, 2011, four days before its deadline, I met all Fox’s criteria with the release of a Harris Interactive national poll showing me at 2 percent.  I wrote to all of the debate sponsors that day to let them know I qualified.  


I was now in five recent national polls with an average of 1 percent.  Fox News Channel then changed its criteria just to keep me out.

As my attorneys and I read the Federal Election Campaign Act, by excluding me in spite of my having met its criteria, Fox News Channel has made in-kind contributions to the eight candidates who participated in the August 11, 2011.  

I am the first openly gay major party candidate to ever run for President of the United States.  I have experienced many doors slammed in my face by individuals and outside political organizations during the past eighteen months, but this blatant affront by Fox News executives smacks of discrimination and I hope the Commission will investigate post-haste.

I look forward to hearing from you in the very near future.  Thank you.

Best regards,


Fred Karger





August 18, 2011

Office of General Counsel
Federal Election Commission
999 E Street, N.W.
Washington, D.C.  20463

I want to bring to your attention possible violations of federal election campaign laws by the Fox News Channel, owned by News Corporation.  The participants for Fox News Channel’s August 11, 2011 televised Presidential Debate were not selected based on pre-established objective criteria.  Specifically, I was excluded from this debate even though I had met Fox News Channel’s criteria.   

I respectfully ask the Federal Election Commission to conduct a full investigation into the legality of the Fox News Channel’s August 11, 2011 Presidential Debate.


Complainant and Respondents

Complainant:

      Fred Karger
      3699 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 1290
      
Los Angeles, CA 90010

Respondents:
      Rupert Murdoch, Chairman and CEO, News Corporation
      Roger Ailes, President, Fox News Channel

      Michael Clemente, Senior VP of News, Fox News

     
      Fox News Channel
      1211 Avenue of the Americas
      New York, New York 10036


Federal Election Laws Concerning Candidate Appearances

    

Federal election campaign laws allow for an organization exempt from taxation under section 501(c)(4) of the Internal Revenue Code to sponsor a Presidential candidate meeting.  Such a meeting is an exception to the definition of contribution.  Applicable rules state that “The debates must be structured such that they do not promote or advance one candidate over another; and they must include at least two candidates, meeting face to face."

Additionally, “The organization staging the debate must select the candidates based on pre-established objective criteria."  A qualified organization can devise its own objective criteria.


Criteria


The Des Moines Register
reported that the “pre-established objective criteria” that Fox News Channel used to select participants for the Iowa Presidential Debate on July 23, 2011, and then reaffirmed these criteria as final on August 3, 2011.  The criteria had to be met by Tuesday, August 9, 2011, 4:00 pm CDT.  In order to participate in the Fox News Debate, candidates must have:

      1. Registered with the Federal Elections Commission as a presidential exploratory committee or presidential campaign

      2. Meet all U.S. Constitutional requirements

      3. Garnered at least an average of one percent in five national polls based on most recent polling leading up to the registration day

Casey Mills, a spokesperson for the Republican Party of Iowa, a debate cosponsor, stated: “The barriers for entry are very low by design to make sure an inclusive list of candidates is featured on stage.”


Fred Karger Met All Criteria


I filed for President on March, 23, 2011 at the Federal Election Commission in Washington, DC; I meet all U.S. Constitutional requirements, and on Friday, August 5, 2011 I achieved the required polling criteria.  When I fulfilled the criteria, my campaign contacted all of the debate hosts to inform them.   A Harris Interactive Poll, which the Fred Karger for President campaign engaged Harris to perform, came out the day before, showing me at 2%.  That poll, averaged with four previous recent polls, brought me to the necessary average of 1% in five national polls.

2% in Harris Interactive Poll August 4th

1% in Zogby Poll July 25th


1% in Zogby Poll May 23rd


1% Fox News Poll April 28th


Less than 1% in McClathy-Marist Poll June 29th


After first contacting Fox News Channel, I polled at 1% in an additional Synovate poll, which was released on August 8, 2011.


Fox News Channel Response


The Des Moines Register and OutQ News on Sirius Satellite Radio, both reported that Fox News Channel released the following statement explaining why I would not be included in the debate:  

“None of the five polls cited by the Karger campaign help him meet the criteria of 1%”.  The August 4th Harris Interactive poll is an online survey. Such polls do not qualify for the purposes of meeting the debate criteria.  The July 25th Zogby poll is an online survey.  Such polls do not qualify for the purposes of meeting the debate criteria.  The May 23rd Zogby Poll is an online survey.  Such polls do not qualify for the purposes of meeting the debate criteria.  The April 28th Fox Poll is out of date. Fox offered up Mr. Karger’s name in polls conducted in June and July, but he did not register in either.  The June 29th McClatchy-Marist Poll shows Karger garnering “less than 1%.” The threshold is 1%.”


Criteria is re-established


Fox News Channel never released acceptable polling companies or acceptable polling methodology in its pre-established objective criteria.

It appears that because I met their originally stated criteria, Fox News changed their criteria in order to exclude me. That is in direct violation of the Federal Election Commission regulations.  The criteria must be “pre-established,” and may not be changed.


CNN Debate


By comparison, CNN, the sponsor of the New Hampshire Debate on June 5, 2011 used much more stringent polling criteria for its debate.  CNN required a candidate to poll at 2% in an average of three national surveys during a one-month period, and only from a specific list of eligible polls.  


Polling Criteria


Fox News Channel regularly publishes and cites Zogby and Harris Interactive polls, both of which are conducted online.  This is a new way national polling firms conduct polls.  Many experts consider online polls even more accurate than telephone polling because they take away the human element.  

Fox News Channel even reported on a Zogby poll that was one of the five to allow me to achieve the 1% threshold that Fox News Channel later dismissed: Fox News Story and Zogby Poll Source. Fox News Channel has cited many other Zogby Presidential Polls conducted online: Christie & Perry vs. Romney, Christie and Cain and Christie Trounces Field.  Fox News Channel also regularly cites Harris Interactive Polls as well: Obama's Popularity, Gays are more frequent Blog users and Sony vs. Apple.  Also, Fox News Channel has cited Synovate polls conducted online.

In all of its coverage of Harris Interactive and Zogby polls, Fox News Channel never stated that these polls were conducted online or that Fox News Channel viewed them to be less accurate than any other poll.  Then, why now?  

Nate Silver of the New York Times analyzed the top polling companies and found Harris Interactive to be one of the most reliable. The International Journal of Market Research analyzed online polling of 72 different political races in one election cycle and found that Harris Interactive Online Polls are "twice as accurate as its general telephone polling competition."



Double Standard?


Fox News Channel claims that its own April 29, 2011 poll (the first national poll to include Fred Karger) is “out of date” because subsequent Fox News Polls had me at less than 1%.

Fox News Channel’s Iowa Debate polling criteria are identical to the criteria that Fox News Channel used for the South Carolina Fox News Debate held on May 5, 2011.  Fox News Channel accepted Gary Johnson for that debate, even though the April 20, 2011 Gallup Poll had him at 0%.  Fox News Channel had accepted previous Gallup polls from March 22, 2011 and February 20, 2011, which had Gary Johnson at 2% and 1% respectively. (Sources: Politico.com 2012 Presidential Polls and Polling Report - White House 2012)

Fox News Channel had to go back five months to November 14, 2010 to be able to include Gary Johnson in the South Carolina Debate by the time Fox News first stated Gary Johnson’s inclusion to the Daily Beast on the day of April 28, 2011. The Fox News Channel poll that I cited was released only three months before the deadline.  I have provided a timeline of all polls leading up to the South Carolina debate deadline.


Request for Investigation


I formally request a thorough and complete investigation into the Fox New Channel sponsorship and financing of its August 9, 2011 Presidential Debate held in Ames, Iowa.

Thank you very much for your prompt attention to this matter.

Sincerely,


Fred Karger
3699 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 1290
Los Angeles, CA 90010

cc:  Distribution

I affirm under penalty of perjury that the foregoing is true and correct.

April 28 - Fox News: 1% (Fox News had already provided a list of debate participants prior to the publication of this study and Gary Johnson was included.  Fox News had affirmed that Gary Johnson came in at 1% in five polls previous to this date.)

April 20, 2011 - Gallup -- Gary Johnson receives 0%

April 14, 2011  - McClathy-Marist -- Gary Johnson not included

April 10, 2011 - CNN -- Gary Johnson not included

April 5, 2011 - Fox News -- Gary Johnson receives 1%

April 4, 2011 - NBC/WSJ -- Gary Johnson not included

March 28, 2011 - Farleigh Dickson University -- Gary Johnson not included

March 22, 2011 – Gallup -- Gary Johnson receives 2%  

March 14, 2011 - Pew -- Gary Johnson not included

March 13, 2011 - CNN -- Gary Johnson not included

February 28, 2011 - NBC/WSJ -- Gary Johnson not included

February 20, 2011 – Gallup -- Gary Johnson receives 1% 

February 15, 2011 - Newsweek/Daily Beast -- Gary Johnson not included

January 23, 2011 - CNN -- Gary Johnson not included

January 16, 2011 - ABC/Washington Post -- Gary Johnson not included

December 16, 2010 - Clarus Research -- Gary Johnson not included  

November 15, 2010 - McClathy-Clarist -- Gary Johnson not included

November 15, 2010 - Quinnipiac -- Gary Johnson not included

November 14, 2010 – Gallup -- Gary Johnson receives 1%  


Fox News Cites Zogby Online Polls


"Zogby Poll: Cain takes Lead Over Romney," Fox News,  
    Corresponding Zogby Poll, which shows Fred Karger at 1%

 “Poll, Both Christie, Perry Trounce Romney,” Fox News
    Corresponding Zogby Poll, the June 21st section, which shows Fred Karger

“Poll, Christie Beats Obama,” Fox News
    Corresponding Zogby Poll, which shows Fred Karger

“Poll, Christie Crushing GOP Pack,” Fox News.
    Corresponding Zogby Poll, before Fred Karger was included

“Obama Approval Sinks 39%” Fox News.

“Poll, Clinton Loses to All Top GOP Candidates in a Direct Match-up”, Fox News

“Bill to Grant Native Hawaiians Sovereignty Passes House,” Fox News

“The Daily Bret – Fresh off the Vine,”  Fox News

“Sotomayor’s Confirmation Isn’t a Win for the White House,” Fox News.

“Sean Hannity: Media Silent as Obama Vacations from Health Care Debate”  Fox News    


Fox News Cites Harris Online Polls


“Poll:  Obama More Popular Than Jesus, Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr.” Fox News.

“Gays More Frequent Blog Readers, Social Networkers,” Fox News

“Money, Work are Top US Stressors, Survey Finds,” Fox News

“Americans Prefer Sony, Apple Brands; Microsoft’s Appeal Wanes,” Fox News

“Dem Proposes Letting People Opt Out of Health Insurance Mandate,” Fox News

“Tiger Still Scores,” Fox News

“For Real Estate, a Giant Spring Clearance Sale,” Fox News

“Tax Day 2011 – We Need a Flat Tax More Than Ever,” Fox News

“In Strauss-Kahn Case, DA weighs Limited Options” Fox News

“Hillary’s Star Appeal Fading”  Fox News

“Laws to Ban Driving Under the Influence of Texting” Fox News.

“Chicago Most Stressed City in US, Miami Least,” Fox News


Fox News Cites Synovate Polls


Synovate:

    “Can You Hear Me Now? Dates Vs. Cell Phones” Fox News

    “Looking for a Credit Card? It Pays to be Rich,” Fox News

    “Polls: Sweden’s Center-Right Government Poised for Re-Election” Fox News