Third parties to formally complain about debate shut-out

Third parties to formally complain about debate shut-out

By Peter Samore | Posted - Sep. 25, 2014 at 8:57 a.m.


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SALT LAKE CITY — They’re tired of being left out, so they’re about to do something about it.

Utah’s “third parties” are filing a complaint with the Federal Election Commission. They claim they’re not getting the same public access as Democrats and Republicans in debates sponsored by the Utah Debate Commission.

The showdowns have been aired live and free of charge to participating candidates on broadcast outlets such as KSL Newsradio, KSL Television, and KSL.com.

Libertarian first district congressional candidate Craig Bowden calls all of this unfair.

“We’re getting charged if we want to have a similar amount of time, up to $2,000 for a 2:00 a.m. slot on broadcast media,” he said.

Prime time slots can be costlier, Bowden complains.

And Bowden says the media is part of the problem by accepting the Debate Commission’s participation rules.

“There are directors from many different news broadcasters as well as print media that are on the board with the Utah Debate Commission,” he said.

Bowden says Utah Libertarians are all but certain to join the complaint along with Utah’s Independent American Party and Utah’s Constitution Party.

That action will require a vote of party leadership.

The Debate Commission has said that extra candidates make debates costlier to produce. It has established a threshold of six-percent name recognition for them to participate.

KSL will air the second of the Debate Commission’s showdowns tonight at 6:00 p.m. It features the race for Utah’s second congressional district between Rep. Chris Stewart (R-Utah) and his challenger, state Sen. Luz Robles (D-Salt Lake City).

The full schedule can be found at http://utahdebatecommission.org/schedule/.

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Peter Samore

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