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Plaintiffs Fire Back at Commission on Presidential Debates

Level the Playing Field (CPF) has fired back on the FEC’s attempt to dismiss a second complaint against the Commission on Presidential Debates.

Plaintiffs in Level the Playing Field, et. al. v. FEC filed a motion Tuesday, August 8, to amend their supplemental complaint to include the Libertarian National Committee and Dr. Peter Ackerman in response to the FEC’s claim that LPF lacks standing.

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The FEC argues that since Level the Playing Field is not a political party and gives no guarantee that it will run or back a candidate in 2020, it has no “competitor standing” to challenge the commission’s policymaking.

Yet, as the plaintiffs point out, “the FEC had never suggested LPF lacked standing to challenge the denial of its rulemaking petition” — until now. LPF immediately responded to add the Libertarian National Committee and Peter Ackerman to the rulemaking challenge.

“The FEC concedes that at least one of these parties has standing, and both clearly do,” the plaintiffs write. “The Libertarian Party has been excluded from every presidential debate staged by the CPD, and it will nominate another candidate to run in 2020.”

“The Libertarian Party is entitled to challenge the FEC’s refusal to address the illegal debate-qualifying rules preventing the Libertarian Party’s candidates from participating in debates.”

LPF further argues that Dr. Ackerman has a “statutory right to know who is making contributions to the CPD,” one of the principal complaints against the debate commission.

“Although the CPD is a ‘political committee’ that must disclose the identity of its corporate contributors, it evades these requirements by claiming the exemption for debate staging organizations,” the plaintiffs write.

“[T]he CPD does not actually qualify for that exemption, because it is a partisan organization that does not use objective debate-qualifying criteria.”

The FEC also, and absurdly argues that while LPF alleges that the CPD’s rules affect their ability to fundraise, fundraising isn’t the mission of LPF, therefore the “political voice” of the group is not injured.

The CPD does not actually qualify for that exemption, because it is a partisan organization that does not use objective debate-qualifying criteria.

On its face, the argument is ridiculous because no political group that endorses or runs a candidate has fundraising as its sole mission.

“Further, LPF’s mission is to promote ‘greater competition and choice in elections for federal office, particularly for the Presidency and Vice Presidency,’” the plaintiffs explain.

“To achieve this goal, LPF tries to recruit and sponsor independent presidential candidates. But the CPD’s rules make it virtually impossible for these candidates to run. If that does not “directly conflict” with LPF’s mission, it is hard to imagine what would.”

In short, LPF cannot reasonably guarantee it will run a candidate in 2020, and that is a direct result of the policymaking decisions of the FEC and the debate commission’s rules that make it impossible for independent and third party candidates to qualify for the debates.

Read the Motion to Amend the Supplemental Complaint:

Read the Supplemental Complaint:

Read the FEC’s Motion to Dismiss:

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