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Filing Suit on Behalf of Third-Party Candidates and Voters Challenging the Commission on Presidential Debates' Partisan Conduct

NVRI has filed suit against the FEC on behalf of an unusual coalition of candidates and third-parties, claiming that the FEC wrongfully dismissed their complaint against the Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD).† The suit argues that the CPD is partisan and, under federal law, should not be allowed to use large sums of corporate funding to benefit Democratic and Republican parties and candidates.† The legal action, filed on May 5, 2004, was brought on behalf Pat Buchanan, Ralph Nader, John Hagelin, Winona LaDuke, the Green Party of the United States, and the Constitution Party.

The suit stems from a complaint that these plaintiffs filed with the Federal Elections Commission in June 2003 charging the CPD with violating federal law, which requires that it be non-partisan in order to sponsor the debates.† The plaintiffs highlighted the CPD's use of a "face book" to keep third-party candidates from even attending the 2000 debates as evidence of the CPD's partisan nature.† The FEC dismissed the complaint on March 18, and the plaintiffs, also represented by Boston attorney Jason Adkins of Akdins, Kelston and Zavez, PC, and Lynne Bernabei and Alan Kabat, of the D.C. law firm Bernabei & Katz, PLLC, now are suing the agency in federal court for wrongfully dismissing the case., now are suing the agency in federal court for wrongfully dismissing the case.

Click on the links below to access the complaint and exhibits.

Challenging Barriers: