The Utah Debate Commission has decided to exclude the campaign for Craig Bowden, candidate for Utah’s 1st Congressional District, as well as candidates for the Gubernatorial race and Attorney General race. This measure to exclude candidates is egregious on its face, and will be challenged. For far too long, systems set up by the two major parties have worked to keep alternate voices from being able to be heard. Whether it is with debates or ballot access, the drive to maintain power has kept third party ideas out of the eye of the public.
The Debate Commission is in direct violation of election laws, and will be held accountable for what it is doing. Under the Equal Time Rule, candidates from opposing parties are able to receive equal air time at the same rate that is offered to other candidates broadcast. Normally, this would not apply as a law, as it does exempt organizations that hold their own debates as long as it is not the broadcast station itself. Where the Utah Debate Commission violates the law, is that the news media sits on the board for the commission. They are instrumental in planning these debates, and dedicate non-regular air time to have these debates. As such, it does not fall under “on the spot news” as required to be exempt from the law. The media is helping manufacture the news under the guise of a private entity.
As such, the campaign of Craig Bowden, will be seeking the price of 30 minutes airtime from every broadcast station, both televised and aired on radio, on the prime time slot. This lawsuit will go away if the campaign is included in the debates.
Further, Craig Bowden’s campaign will be seeking equal damages for every third party candidate and independent who was excluded. This is in combination with any fines the Federal Communications Commission may seek to impose on the Utah Debate Commission. The monies awarded on behalf of other third party candidates will be paid to each candidate that was excluded from the debates.