Wednesday, May 29, 2024

RFK Jr. Files FEC Complaint Against CNN, Biden, Trump


Robert F. Kennedy Jr. in Brooklyn on May 1. Photo by Jason Schott.

The campaign of Independent Presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. filed a Federal Election Commission (FEC) complaint alleging CNN, President Biden, President Trump, and their campaigns have engaged in flagrant violations of the Federal Election Campaign Act (FECA). 

The complaint establishes that since CNN is illegally demanding that Kennedy meet different criteria to participate than Presidents Biden and Trump, its debate on June 27 is a large prohibited campaign contribution to Biden and Trump. 

According to the complaint, the Parties have engaged in blatant violations of the FECA, as they allege that “CNN colluded with the Biden Committee and the Trump Committee to schedule and did schedule a debate with criteria that were designed to result in the selection of certain pre-chosen participants, namely Biden and Trump, in a clear breach of federal campaign finance law.” 

The Biden campaign has been open about demanding that Kennedy be excluded from the debates, and it was reported by the Washington Post that Trump received assurances from CNN that Kennedy would be excluded. 

This makes it clear, according to the complaint, that “CNN is making prohibited corporate contributions to both campaigns and the Biden Committee and the Trump Committee have accepted these prohibited corporate contributions.”

To read the full complaint filed by the Kennedy campaign, please click here.

FEC law requires that media broadcasters use “pre-established” and “objective” criteria to determine which candidates are admitted to a debate. Broadcasters like CNN are not permitted to pre-select the candidates who may participate. Debate hosts are also not allowed to “use nomination by a particular political party as the sole objective criterion to determine whether to include a candidate in a debate.”

Robert F. Kennedy Jr. asks the FEC to “find reason to believe that the Parties have violated the Federal Election Campaign Act” and to, among other things, “enjoin the Parties from holding the presidential debate scheduled for June 27, 2024 until the Parties have come into compliance with the Federal Election Campaign Act.”

According to the qualification criteria from CNN, “a candidate’s name must appear on a sufficient number of state ballots to reach the 270 electoral vote threshold to win the presidency” by the qualification deadline of June 20. The candidates must also receive at least 15% in four national polls sponsored by 1 of at least 12 selected pollsters of registered or likely voters.

On Tuesday, the Kennedy campaign announced that New York is now the ninth state that the Kennedy-Shanahan ticket has collected enough signatures for ballot access in, along with New York, New Hampshire, Nevada, North Carolina, Idaho, Nebraska, Iowa, and Ohio. It has officially made the ballot in seven states - Utah, Michigan, California, Delaware, Oklahoma, Hawaii, and Texas. 

That means the Kennedy-Shanahan campaign has collected the signatures needed for ballot access in 16 states totaling 229 electoral votes - 43 percent of the 538 total electoral votes nationwide. 

The real significance of the New York ballot access news is that, as of today, Kennedy is eligible for more electoral votes than both Presidents Biden and Trump combined since they have not yet been officially nominated by their parties and their ballot access is not certified in any state, making them eligible for zero electoral votes. CNN is admitting presidents Biden and Trump to the debate without requiring that they satisfy the electoral vote criteria while insisting Kennedy must satisfy it. That violates the requirement that debate criteria be “pre-established” and “objective.”

The Kennedy campaign has had meetings with CNN, and the broadcaster reiterated its double standard on the electoral criteria, and in a damning revelation , refused to deny that it developed qualifying criteria before determining candidates.

Kennedy said in a statement, By demanding our campaign meet different criteria to participate in the debate than Presidents Biden and Trump, CNN’s debate violates FEC law and is a large prohibited corporate contribution to both the Biden and Trump campaigns.”

Kennedy already has three of the four national polls needed to satisfy CNN’s rules for its upcoming debate in Atlanta, Georgia. Last week, a Marquette Law School Poll of registered voters put RFK Jr. at 17%, and RFK Jr. already had two qualifying polls in April, a CNN poll at 16% and a Quinnipiac poll at 16%.

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