I’m excited beyond belief. We’ve just filed our legal brief challenging the FEC in the DC Court of Appeals, and it’s more powerful than I could have imagined! Our lawsuit, you may recall, contests the FEC’s draconian order that I personally repay over $175,000 in matching funds we used to get on the ballot – 6 years after the fact, no less.
But the case is not simply a defense of yours truly from a decision with crushing personal consequences (and which would have a chilling effect on future grassroots challengers). We are fighting for the principles of open democracy at the foundation of the public matching funds program – namely fairness and political competition. It may seem like wishful thinking in today’s political system more dominated than ever by big money from private donors and corporate interests. But it turns out these core principles are actually written into prior court decisions about the matching funds program – giving us a real shot at prevailing in court.
But… as we enter this final phase of the court battle, we’re in immediate need of funds to complete the fight. Please consider making an urgent contribution so we can cover overdue legal bills (outside of the Center for Competitive Democracy’s invaluable pro bono services), as well as maintain bare bones administrative support and pay down residual fines.
As you well know, the foundations of democracy are under attack on multiple fronts – from the assault on Julian Assange and press freedom to the dirty tricks used to throw Senate candidate Matt Hoh off the ballot in North Carolina and block all independent parties in New York state. We must fight these assaults on our democracy like our lives depend on it, as ultimately they do.
Right now, however, I’m so encouraged that the prospects of prevailing in our current battle have undergone a major turnaround. While there’s no guarantee of the court’s decision, our attorneys have unearthed legal precedents that clarify our matching funds system was intended to support more equitable public funding for alternative candidates.
In short, attorneys Oliver Hall (with the Center for Competitive Democracy), and Harry Kresky have identified a key statute that inherently discriminates against alternative parties and independents, (26 U.S.C. § 9032(6)). This unconstitutional provision is now at the heart of our legal arguments. The statute terminates alternative candidates’ eligibility for public funds on the date the major parties conclude their conventions. The result, simply stated, is that if the major parties hold early conventions, as in 2016, matching funds for the ballot drives of alternative candidates are terminated before the last critical weeks of signature collections. This makes it virtually impossible to qualify for the ballot in multiple states, keeping the alternatives – that so many voters are now seeking – out of contention.
As stated in our brief, this statute “imposes severe and unequal burdens on minor party candidates, produces arbitrary results, serves no legitimate governmental interest and frustrates the purpose of the Matching Payment Act as applied to minor party candidates.” Our attorneys have cited several court precedents that argue such a provision violates the 5th Amendment right of equal protection, and the 1st Amendment right to free speech. (For further details, see the short summary of these arguments, as well as the full brief, here.)
Click here to help us continue this key battle for democracy we believe we can win. At a time when nearly two thirds of voters are clamoring for a 3rd party, and the policies of both establishment parties have brought catastrophe to the climate, the economy, peace and democracy, this battle is more important than ever. And there’s not a moment to lose.
Thank you so much for all you do for people, planet, peace and democracy.
All my best,
Green Party Presidential nominee 2012, 2016