The Utah Debate Commission has decided to exclude the campaign for Craig Bowden, candidate for Utah’s 1st Congressional District, as well as candidates for the Gubernatorial race and Attorney General race. This measure to exclude candidates is egregious on its face, and will be challenged. For far too long, systems set up by the two major parties have worked to keep alternate voices from being able to be heard. Whether it is with debates or ballot access, the drive to maintain power has kept third party ideas out of the eye of the public.
The Debate Commission is in direct violation of election laws, and will be held accountable for what it is doing. Under the Equal Time Rule, candidates from opposing parties are able to receive equal air time at the same rate that is offered to other candidates broadcast. Normally, this would not apply as a law, as it does exempt organizations that hold their own debates as long as it is not the broadcast station itself. Where the Utah Debate Commission violates the law, is that the news media sits on the board for the commission. They are instrumental in planning these debates, and dedicate non-regular air time to have these debates. As such, it does not fall under “on the spot news” as required to be exempt from the law. The media is helping manufacture the news under the guise of a private entity.
As such, the campaign of Craig Bowden, will be seeking the price of 30 minutes airtime from every broadcast station, both televised and aired on radio, on the prime time slot. This lawsuit will go away if the campaign is included in the debates.
Further, Craig Bowden’s campaign will be seeking equal damages for every third party candidate and independent who was excluded. This is in combination with any fines the Federal Communications Commission may seek to impose on the Utah Debate Commission. The monies awarded on behalf of other third party candidates will be paid to each candidate that was excluded from the debates.
Yesterday was one of the busiest days I have had on the campaign trail. It all started with setting up for an event in Ogden for the Pride Festival. We had a booth set up to do some outreach on behalf of the Libertarian Party in Utah. After set up, I headed out to join in a rally for Governor Gary Johnson, this is where things started to get really interesting for me. As a person heavily involved with Utah’s Libertarian Party, I was afforded the opportunity to head back into the Green Room to get some words in with the media and also be with the two former Governors who are the top ticket.
During the time back there, I was able to speak with Governor Bill Weld at some length, and I was glad to have that opportunity. As many of you in libertarian circles know, I have been critical of Bill Weld’s past as Governor of Massachusetts. Speaking with him directly has given me the chance to see things from him in a different light, and I can see that he isn’t the same person now he was then. I’ve always prided myself on being able to judge a person’s character when I am able to meet with them, and Governor Weld was being very honest with his answers to me. I still don’t agree with everything, but I never have agreed 100% with every candidate who has run to represent me. The areas that matter most to me, he is on the right side of the issues.
One of the highlights of our conversation, after it turned from political issues, was laughing about how fast our shoes have been wearing out on the campaign trail. It was a very human moment, and something I don’t think I will forget.
Shortly after this, I joined in with the rally to listen to the speakers chosen, including Barry Short, Mark Madsen, and of course, the two Governors. It is definitely looking like Utah may be the place for a state to turn Gold. The crowd numbered between 1200 and 1800 from estimates given, which marks it as the largest libertarian gathering in Utah’s history.
This trend continued as I traveled back to Utah to finish out the day manning the booth at the Ogden Pride Festival. I have to say that in all my years volunteering to help with events like these for the party in Utah, I have never seen such a huge response from people asking questions, taking information, and saying they plan to vote libertarian this election.
Nearly all the material that was brought was handed out and several new libertarians pledged to support our nominees this year. We also were approached by the candidate running for the U.S. Senate in Utah, Misty Snow, where we had a great conversation about civil liberties. She seems to have a pretty good head on her shoulders, and I sincerely wish her the best of luck in her efforts; it’s not easy stepping up to run for office. She definitely seems like someone I would be able to work with on several issues that affect Utah, like dismantling the Draper NSA facility.
The best part of the evening was discovering the booth next to us featuring Even Stevens, a sandwich company in Utah. This company has the Libertarian solution to “who’s going to take care of the poor” question we are often asked. Essentially what this sandwich shop does is to donate one sandwich to a charity for every sandwich you buy. They do this without government mandates or interference. They do it because they care about the people who need some help.
I am certainly excited for what has been happening in Utah, and every day that passes I feel we are getting close to being included in the 1st District Debates. That is one thing I would sincerely ask for you all to donate what you are able as we start doing our Top of Utah Tour this week. Just head to www.Craig4Congress.org and give your best donation.
We are getting so close to changing the landscape of politics, and Utah is the place for it to happen.
Saturday, April 23rd, the Libertarian Party of Utah held their annual convention to select candidates and choose delegates for the National Convention in May, where they will help select the nominee for President of the United States. This year’s turn out was possibly the largest in the state’s party history.
It began, as all conventions, with credentialing attendees who were eligible to vote on candidates and party business items. The reason to bring this up is that it took far longer than normal to finish the process, as the line literally went out the door for the majority of the morning, even though credentialing started thirty minutes prior to the scheduled start.
In spite of the long lines and a late kick off, enthusiasm ran high as candidates prepped their final thought in their heads, and old friends shook hands. New faces were present as well, with several officially joining the Libertarian Party on the spot.
Party Chairman, Andrew McCullough, kicked things off with great news on the fiscal situation in the Utah party, as well as the record growth experienced in the last year. The party has been adding record number of concerned Utahans every month, which as reported, may have even tripled the size of the party.
There were of course the candidates up for nomination, and while a little smaller than 2014’s, looks to be one of the strongest seen based on the experience of the candidates who stepped up.
*Craig Bowden – U.S. House, 1st District
*Brian Kamerath/Barry Short – Governor/Lt. Governor
*Andrew McCullough – Utah Attorney General
*Jim Dexter – Utah State Senate, District 6
*Aaron Davis – Utah State House, District 6
*Joe Buchman – Utah State Senate, District 14
*Derryck Gordon – Utah State House, District 10
*Brent Zimmerman – Utah State House, District 16
*Chelsea Travis – Utah State House, District 35
*Lee Anne Walker – Utah State House, District 46
On top of the selection of candidates for offices within Utah, the Libertarian group held a Presidential straw poll and chose delegates to head to the National Convention in May at the Rosen Centre in Orlando.
Results of the straw poll are as follows:
Gary Johnson – 33
Austin Petersen – 11
John McAfee – 10
Vermin Supreme – 4
Darryl Perry – 1
The candidates selected for the poll were based off those who had representation speak on their behalf.
This year, Utah was also able to select a full delegation of 8, with all 8 alternates chosen as well. Each person interested in becoming a delegate was able to speak for two minutes on why they should be selected.
Former mayor Willie Marshall addressed the crowd on how to get elected as a Libertarian using his three rules of “Suit up, show up, and play the game.” It was amazing to have an example of triumph from an elected libertarian in Utah.
Utah Libertarians lastly selected their six electors in the event the Libertarian nominee wins the majority of votes in November.
Life certainly happens and it had me neglecting to post on my blog site for a bit. That changes as of today.
To bring you all up to speed on why things have been so busy, here is the update of life in the political realm.
1. I have been helping vet the Libertarian candidates for POTUS, and drafting a voters guide to assist delegates in making their choice at convention in Orlando.
2. I have accepted a position in the campaign to nominate Steve Kerbel as the Utah Campaign Director.
3. I have been putting my own team in place for my Congressional run this year for Utah’s 1st District.
4. In efforts to grow the Libertarian Party in Utah, I have been working on organizing County Affiliates, especially in Weber County.
So lots of exciting developments in the works. Now that we have done most of the groundwork, I have time to keep everyone updated on the liberty movement as we work to expand freedom for all.
Today marked the first day for the 114th Congress, as members of the House and Senate were sworn into office. For me, this day was one marked by a slight bitterness because of the first vote being held in the House of Representatives.
Each member of the Utah delegation voted in favor of retaining Speak Boehner. While not really a surprise with Congressmen Rob Bishop, Chaffetz, and Stewart, Utah was holding onto some hope that freshman Mia Love would have stood on principle as she had so often stated on her campaign trail for 4th District.
Each member from Utah decided that they would continue with the status quo, ignoring the voices of their constituents. While I don’t adhere to the Republican Party as others in my state, it was saddening to see so many voices ignored.
When you are sent to represent people in any capacity, it is your duty to listen to what they want of you. While there can certainly be some level of disagreement, and you cannot please everyone, when the vast majority of your constituents wish for something, it is advisable to listen to their voice.
For far too long, voters have felt neglected by their representatives. Perhaps this is the push that is needed for real change for a third party to finally take seat in the federal government. I guarantee that each of these four House members will be facing a tough reelection in 2016.
I found myself up tonight, unable to sleep so I thought I’d take some time and let out some concerns I have of mine. For those of you who don’t know me, I’m Craig Bowden. I’m not really anyone famous or popular. I haven’t done anything terribly significant. But I have tried to do the right thing throughout my life. Living in a way I can be proud of. I served as an infantryman in the Marine Corps for nearly eight years. Once in the Marines, I saw some things that made my eyes open. I saw some things that needed fixing, so I wrote about them on blog sites and letters to the editor. I noticed politicians doing things that were questionable, so I wrote and called them. I saw even more things that were going wrong in our country, so I ran for political office.
I’ve done a lot, and I have failed miserably in what I have tried to do. Perhaps it’s the fact that I don’t have the prestige of Kim Kardashian’s butt. Maybe I’m not as entertaining as the latest episode of the Voice or American Idol. I know I can’t dance, so I definitely couldn’t get on So You Think You Can Dance, nor could I be one of the stars on Dancing with the stars.
I’m not an action hero on the silver screen. I’m not an NFL player that hits my significant other in an elevator. I don’t get the media because I’m only me and all I do is tell the truth. No crazy antics, just a scary truth that many people don’t want to hear and others have no idea exists.
We are failing as a country. I used to think we were the best country in the world. I was wrong. Boy was I wrong. Chances are, you are wrong too if you still believe we’re the best in the world.
My first real look into everything was as a Marine in Iraq. Seeing the full effect of U.S. interventionist policy. You may have thought that we had good reason to go to war, I fell for it too. Even defended it for a long time. Being there was a little different though. Seeing it with my own eyes as we became political pawns for the political elite. Re-election posters and cannon fodder. It tore me apart to know that I was only serving the industrial military complex and self serving politicians, and not the country I loved.
Later came the realization that the Democrats and Republicans were essentially the exact same party with little difference. I’ll admit it. I was born and raised in Utah with a fairly conservative upbringing. I thought for sure I was Republican. Until I looked at their voting records. So maybe, just maybe I was a Democrat. Until I looked at theirs too. It was strange. Whenever the opposing party asked for something, the other side said no. But when their guy or gal said it, they would push for it.
I have warned for so long about the two-party system. In 2014, I watched just about every incumbent go right back to Washington, D.C. (and my home state of Utah as well). Nearly everyone got re-elected to do the exact same thing that they have been doing since they first got elected (and for some of them, that’s decades). Few woke up and realized. And if you voted for your guy or gal to go back….you’re part of the problem in this country.
I could go on for hours about the two-party system, but there is one other thing I want to address tonight: police and blind police support.
Why are you blindly supporting the police in America? I have witnessed so many shootings and brutality cases cross my social media timelines, emails, and news. And it seems that the comments are the same: just don’t resist.
Not one of you have the guts to say that some of the laws are stupid and shouldn’t be enforced. No, you just think that it’s some “thug” being put in their place. The person needs to fix their attitude toward the officer.
When did America become a country full of cowards? According to your logic, the founders of this country should have just shut up and followed the orders of Great Britain. There is a level of tyranny being enforced by these police officers.
You can’t grow your grass over a certain length. You can’t buy a pack of cigarettes and sell them to others. You can’t go around without a seat belt. Heaven forbid you say hello to someone that has been busted doing drugs, because if a cop sees it, you will be cornered and searched as if you did something. If you pull out your phone to record what is happening, you may wind up in handcuffs yourself.
The list of stupidity in the law can go on forever, but it all really boils down to this: if there is no victim, there is no crime and if the state (be it federal, state, or local) tries to enforce these arbitrary laws through the police, they are committing aggression against you. We fought a world war against that kind of tyranny. It may be small now (cigarettes and seat belts) but what happens when it starts to increase like a frog boiling in water?
We’re about to boil, and you fine Americans are asleep at the helm. Actually defending this level of injustice. Shame on you. And shame on me for taking so long to wake up.
I hope you’re happy America. Someday it will be you. If you refuse to speak out today, who will speak out for you tomorrow?
Once again the media, in this instance the Park Record, has decided to exclude me from being able to answer questions given another candidate. I have taken the liberty of copying down the questions and answering them for the voters of 1stDistrict.
Voters deserve to know where all candidates stand on the issues. Until the media decides to stop playing the partisan games, we will have to continue to do things this way, though I would encourage all who read this to send in letters and phone calls to the media and ask that they fairly cover all candidates in a race instead of skewing it to the Democrats and/or the Republicans.
Please describe how your background prepares you to serve in the office you seek and why you have chosen to campaign for that office.
To start off, I served nearly 8 years as a United States Marine in the infantry. This has given me first-hand knowledge of what happens in war, as I was deployed twice in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. It also gave me the skills of leadership and teamwork that are necessary to help bridge the divide our nation is experiencing. It also taught me that there is such a thing as honor, and to honor my oath I took on June 16, 2003, I chose to run to defend the rights of the people; it had no expiration for me.
I also served 3 years at the Internal Revenue Service in the Business Division. This has given me great insight to the many problems within our tax code. I dealt with the direct issues employers were having. I have heard their complaints every day, and also heard their suggestions. Though at the time I could not do anything to change the way the law was, if elected, I would be able to apply this experience to helping the businesses in America grow and prosper.
Finally, I am a small business owner. I know what it is like to roll up your sleeves and get to work. I chose to forge my own path, and while it may not be a multi-million dollar corporation, the fact that I can feed my family is a success. Tied in with this business experience, I am also the President of two non-profits, so I deal with the day in and day out of working with people.
The Park City and Summit County economies have performed solidly during the current two-year congressional term. Please discuss your reasoning for the performance of the local economy and identify one policy you will pursue during the next congressional term to ensure further economic expansion in the community.
Utah overall has had great results economically compared to other states in the nation. Our unemployment is one of the lowest, and I think it can really be attributed to the “can do” attitude the people of this state have. We aren’t afraid to roll up our sleeves and do the jobs necessary to take care of our loved ones. Park City and Summit County are no exception. They have that same grit to do what they need to, and because of this attitude, it’s not just surviving but thriving.
I think one of the best things I could do is listen to the small business leaders in the community. We constantly hear about Congressmen and women essentially being bought and paid for by large corporation, and that is why I’m not interested in talking to them. They will survive without my ear. The people who need the most help are the “ma and pa” stores. The self-owned restaurants. The bait and tackle shops. The snowboard rental stores. They are the ones we need to listen to.
I stated earlier that I worked in the Business Division of the IRS and there were a top number of complaints we dealt with: taxation being too much, regulations being a burden, and confusion with the ever evolving tax code. We need to simplify things for the businesses that can’t afford the team of lawyers and lobbyists. We need to make it easier on them.
Please discuss your opinion of the benefits and drawbacks of the Affordable Care Act. Please describe one item you would like added to the health care law and one that you would like removed.
I have been fairly strong worded about the ACA, and for good reason. I honestly don’t think the approach taken was helpful in the least. My dad told me a story to relate, and I will share it with you: When you have a leaking roof, you go up and apply some tar, maybe some new shingles, but you don’t tear the whole house down and rebuild.
There were obviously some needed reforms in the healthcare industry, but the ACA tore down the house, and some problems are still not addressed.
To be honest, I would scrap the entire law and go back to the drawing board addressing one specific issue at a time. Like college students being allowed to remain on their parents’ insurance. That could have been one law passed.
When we address the issues one at a time like this, it works far more efficiently. And if Congress is going to use the excuse that “there isn’t enough time for that,” well, maybe it’s time for them to work more than 120 days out of a year or maybe the bill shouldn’t exist if it needs to be so massively sweeping no one can read it.
The situation in Iraq has deteriorated in recent months, more than a decade after the U.S.-led invasion of the country. What dangers do you foresee for the United States in Iraq and what role should the U.S. have in Iraq as the government there struggles to maintain control?
This is where I am going to be very clearly contrasted from all my opponents in the race. I do not think we have any more business in the countries of Iraq and Syria. It is a no win situation for America.
If we go in and help defeat ISIS, then Bashar Assad will remain in power as a dictator and continue to oppress his people. If we support ISIS, then something worse comes along. We have seen examples like this happen time and time again when the United States starts getting involved with other nations.
Let’s not also forget that we really should not have been involved in Iraq in the first place. I personally believe that the actions we took were at least borderline criminal.
We also have no clear objectives, and as a former infantryman, you need to have a clear mission in order to accomplish it. We cannot continue to risk the lives of our young men and women in international conflicts, the price is too great. Our Department of Defense should actually start worrying about defense and not deploying all over the world to be involved in conflicts we have no business in.
Many Americans see partisan gridlock in Washington, D.C., as one of the inhibitors to progress in the country, pointing to the government shutdown as an example. Please discuss the problems created by the partisan nature of Washington and describe one effort you pledge to make to cooperate with the other side of the aisle.
Well, let me just say that first of all, I am not partisan. I am running to represent the people in Utah’s District, and if the Libertarian Party started to ask me to do things that did not involve increases in liberty or prosperity for all my constituents, I would leave the party.
It’s high time that we stopped having the partisan lines drawn. It is one of the reasons I chose to run in the first place. Congressman Bishop blames Harry Reid, and Donna McAleer blames Congressman Bishop. They are all part of the problem. They will tow whatever line their party tells them to. So in spite of Ms. McAleer’s promises, I’m afraid that she’d only add to the gridlock, not work to solve it.
I have no qualms working with anyone that has the voters’ best interests in mind, so long as the law being passed respects individual and economic liberty, and also falls within the defined limits of the U.S. Constitution.
I pledge to the voters of Utah that I will not join in the political hackery that goes on in Washington, D.C. I am going there to represent you, and I will be your voice, but more than that, lend you and not the lobbyists and special interests my ear.
The tourism-heavy economy of Park City has for years relied at some level on foreign workers, both those in the United States legally and those in the country illegally. Please discuss your preferred immigration reform package. In your answer, please address the idea of amnesty for those already in the United States illegally.
I honestly would like to see a time where we are allowed to freely travel, work, and live anywhere we want, and that includes those in Latin America and Mexico. We do need to have border security to guard against threats, but someone wanting to work here and better their life is no threat.
I do not believe that they should be granted amnesty for citizenship, and should apply like everyone else to become a citizen, but I have no issues with them being here.
To address the concerns of them not paying taxes or getting benefits from the welfare programs, I have addressed this concern in some of the welfare reforms I have proposed and my tax plan to initiate the Fair Tax.
Benefits can only be extended to U.S. citizens, is the short answer on the reforms, but I do have a little more in depth on my website, too much to say here today. As for the Fair Tax, to summarize, it removes all forms of taxation currently in place and essentially creates a national consumption tax based on the purchase of new goods, with the exclusion of necessities like food, water, and housing. This means that all other spending done in the United States is taxed, which means there will be no “under the table” pay not making it into the revenue.
Please identify one of President Obama’s policies you support and one that you oppose. Please explain the reasoning behind your support and opposition.
To be honest, I really cannot think of anything off the top of my head I have openly supported from President Obama. He really seems to be continuing a lot of former President Bush’s policies, and so I don’t have a lot I can say in favor of what he’s tried to do. I really would have liked to see him uphold the promises he made, and has had several opportunities with bill passage he could have vetoed, but didn’t.
Please differentiate yourself from your opponents.
Well, I don’t avoid media questions and constituents like Congressman Bishop has shown to do. I am open and honest about any questions asked of me, and really try to have a 24 hour turn around on answering a question I receive.
As for Donna McAleer, I am the only candidate who is truly without the support of special interests. She has claimed many times that she is the candidate running without them, but when you look into her financials, you can see that she has received money from several sources that are not individual voters (approximately 15% from PACs, though to her credit far lower than Congressman Bishop who is closer to 80%). I have only received money from the Libertarian Party of Utah and individual voters. I’m not interested in money from PACs, unions, or any other groups. The voters’ voices matter.
By Craig Bowden, Libertarian Candidate for Congress: As many of you know, I have been protesting the Utah Debate Commission for the last couple months. I will continue to do so, even though I missed out on debating in the one held for Utah’s 1st District. This isn’t about me. This is about the voters having the opportunity to hear from eligible candidates and learn about where they stand. They may never get to hear from me on such a stage, but that doesn’t mean the other districts or the Attorney General’s race shouldn’t have all balloted candidates included.
On Tuesday, September 23rd, we held a protest outside of building where the first debate was held. I want to share my story of this process, because it is important that people understand what happened to us that day.
We began setting up at around 5:00 p.m. so we could make sure that voters heading in to watch the debate would be able to see the excluded candidates. We also had flyers and pamphlets to showcase where we stand on critical issues facing the State of Utah and the nation. We set up in a nice grassy area, one that seemed to be an ideal location, but we were duped.
The area we were allowed to protest was on the opposite side of the building from where the majority of voters would be entering, contrary to what I was told by Weber State’s Police Chief Dane LeBlanc. It appears that we were intentionally put out of site and mind by the police department, even though they had three officers keeping tabs on us to make sure we stayed in our “free speech zone” assigned to us.
We were told that we could not bring canopies for shade, in spite of the fact that the temperatures were in the high 80’s and low 90’s. We suffered the heat so we could be heard. The candidates that made the debate? They got to set tables up inside the Shepard Union Building to hand out information. So not only were we excluded from taking stage, but we also were shut out from being able to set up a table. Ironic that the mission of the Debate Commission is to inform voters.
When candidate Donna McAleer walked by, I called out and said hello to her, to have her look up and scoff my presence. I was afforded the exact same response by Congressman Bishop as he left. Neither of them thought we deserved to be within their presence.
The showing of support though small, was enthusiastic and we had some ad hoc debate going on between the candidates located at the protest. We discussed our differences and our common ground. We also got to have people stop and listen as they went about to classes. This was worth standing in the sun, getting to have voters interact with us and learn more about where we stand.
I think the biggest complaint that I have from this aside from the general disdain showed by major party candidates and the debate commission was the way we were treated by the news agencies reporting on the debate.
Fox 13 didn’t air any of the footage of the protest, nor any interviews with those attending, even though Dwayne Vance and I both took time to talk to the camera. As a matter of fact, Fox 13 barely even gave us a footnote on the 9 o’clock news. At least we were somewhat mentioned. Worse were the reactions from Channel 2 and Channel 4 News. They actually went out of the way to avoid talking to us. I watched them walking up the stairs near our staging area, and move to walk along the wall of the building to avoid talking to us at all.
The Salt Lake Tribune, though not present at all, made a footnote about only Dwayne Vance and I being in attendance. They reported total misinformation with stating it was just the two of us and forgetting to mention the supporters and other candidates who showed up to give support.
The Deseret News at least shot two pictures and posted them up with their article, but aside from the captions in the pictures, they made no mention of what we were trying to accomplish or what our legitimate complaints were.
One highlight of this was the coming together of all third parties in Utah, something that has never happened before. We are sending in a formal complaint for the Utah Debate Commission violating the law, and all of us are standing together in this common goal: that Utah voters have the chance to hear from every legitimate candidate in the election and not the chosen major party candidates that continue to offer the same tired rhetoric of the last few decades.
I have also included in this writing a message I have for Scott Howell, the Co-Chair of the Utah Debate Commission that spent two days in the media calling us “wackos” and “extremists” and claiming that we haven’t been putting in the leg work to be considered “real candidates.”
UPDATE TO STORY
I am a person who will give credit where credit is due; I’m not a partisan individual. Tonight I learned that Donna McAleer, my Democrat opponent, fought hard to get third parties into the debates this year.
I also need to apologize for a statement made from the debate night. I had stated that Donna did not acknowledge me when I said hello. While it was true she didn’t, she was quite nervous going into the debate and didn’t realize I had said hello, as she was focused on what was about to happen.
I should have accounted for the nerves and focus needed, as I’ve had the jitters doing speaking engagements as well.
I have been fighting for a long time to expand liberty and improve the way things happen in Washington, D.C. One of my latest tasks has been running for Congress out of Utah’s 1st District. It has been challenging and rewarding. Today I want to talk to you about my experience with the Utah Debate Commission, the supposedly non-partisan group that is running the televised debates in Utah.
I knew almost immediately that there was going to be a threshold set too high for third party candidates to be able to participate. That is the way the system works with the two party monopoly, especially when you only have Democrats and Republicans staff your commission. So I took to a petition, asking people to sign if they would like to hear third parties speak.
In a matter of a few days, I had managed to garner over 600 signatures in hard copy and online using a petition website. I delivered the results to the Utah Debate Commission, only to be told that their way is how it is. They refused to listen to what the people wanted.
Well, yesterday they released their poll numbers to reveal who would be in the debates, and as figured, not one third party candidate made the cut. But there is more to the story, and something I haven’t been able to get a single news agency to cover (largely because they are part of the commission, which I will show later). In each poll, the “undecided” category marked anywhere from 20-31%! So a fifth to a third of people in Utah weren’t sure who they would vote for. They want to see their options!
Well, of course the two parties polled well enough in order to make the debates (though Democrats in Utah almost didn’t make the cut in two races). This is obvious since Democrats and Republicans have spent a couple million in this race to get their names out there, largely funded by special interest groups outside of the state and not the voters (you can verify where money comes from on Open Secret’s website).
I believed that I could appeal to the Debate Commission with this information, but was again shot down. Even though so many voters were undecided in the polls, the commission still will not allow for third parties to debate.
Now, earlier I mentioned that the press would not cover the news on this, and I want to present to you the Board of Directors for the Utah Debate Commission. Please note the media partners on the board will be in bold, emphasis added by me.
Scott Howell, Former Utah State Senator & Candidate for United States Senate, Co-Chair
Bob Bennett, Former United States Senator, Co-Chair
Ed Allen, Former Utah State Senator
Rod Arquette, Program Director, KNRS
Renai Bodley, Vice President, News Director, FOX 13
Damon Cann, Co-Director of Operations, Institute of Government & Politics, Utah State University
Irene Caso, News Anchor, Producer, Univision 32
Morgan Lyon Cotti, Hinckley Institute of Politics
Jennifer Dahl, News Director, KUTV
Richard Davis, Professor of Political Science, BYU
Jay DeSart, Associate Professor of Political Science, Utah Valley University
Paul Edwards, Editor, Deseret News
Karen Hale, Director, Community Relations, Salt Lake City and Former Utah State Senator
Corey Hodges, Lead Pastor, New Pilgrim Baptist Church
Eric Kirby, Director, Leavitt Center for Politics and Public Service, Southern Utah University
Fred Lampropolous, Founder and CEO, Merit Medical
Dan Liljenquist, Former Utah State Senator and Former Candidate for United States Senate
Carol McNamara, Director, Walker Institute of Politics and Public Service
John Miller, Assistant General Manager, Mark Miller Toyota
Terry Orme, Editor, Salt Lake Tribune
George Severson, News Director, KTVX
Diena Simmons, Station Manager, KBYU
Karl Sun, CEO, Lucid Software
Tanya Vea, Executive Vice President, KSL
Ken Verdoia, Production Director, KUED
Olene Walker, Former Governor of Utah
Thomas Wright, President & Principal Broker, Summit Sotheby’s International Realty
Michele Zabriskie, President, Utah Broadcasters Association
Now, based on this evidence, it would appear that the media is complicit in blocking attempts for third parties to enter into the debates. Only two newspapers picked up a letter to the editor I wrote, and one of them isn’t part of the board. All news agencies, however, mentioned nothing of the attempts third parties were making to get into the debates.
Now, all arguments used in this fight are totally legitimate, and make sense for more freedom and choice for the people of Utah. Let me go over the whole argument used in this process so that you can make sense of what we attempted to do and the Commission ignored:
1. All the debates, except one, were being held in taxpayer funded venues. The universities and colleges are all state run and as such, even though a private entity was organizing the debates, the fact that some candidates could not speak is a violation of the first amendment.
2.Each candidate, whether independent or a party nominee, must meet a threshold requirement to even be considered for the ballot. In the case of Independents in Utah, hundreds of signatures must be collected, verified by county clerks, and turned in with filing paperwork before being ballot qualified. As a member of a party, you must be elected by voting members or delegates in a 50% or more majority in convention to be ballot qualified. If you do not meet that threshold, you cannot run as a candidate. You must be able to clearly articulate ideas and positions you want to accomplish in office.
3. Title 47 U.S. Code Sec. 315 (Communications Act) states that candidates be given equal time by broadcast news with the following exceptions:
- bona fide news cast
- bona fide news interview
- bona fide news documentary (if the appearance of the candidate is incidental to the presentation of the subject or subjects covered by the news documentary)
- on-the-spot coverage of bona fide news events (including but not limited to political conventions and activities incidental thereto)
Since the Utah Debate Commission is staffed by members of broadcast media, this does not fall under the “on the spot” coverage. They are helping plan and coordinate the news event, so free air time is being granted to two candidates not afforded others in the race. This is a violation of the law.
4. Former Senator Bob Bennett (who is one of the co-chairs) once stated that had he not been given the ability to debate, he would have lost his race since he was behind by approximately 52 points. However, he is now turning around and not affording the same opportunity to candidates who could turn the election if given the chance.
5. In order for a truly educated, voting public, candidates who will appear on the ballot should be able to express themselves to the voters.
All of these arguments are valid, but the commission will not listen to the people.
Third party candidates and supporters will be protesting at Weber State University on September 23rd, the night of the first debate. We are hoping to change the future of the debate process to reflect a more fair process that encompasses the freedom and values of the United States Constitution.