Stateside With Rosalea: Exclusion Tactics?
The Gannett corporation—owner of 23 television stations and publisher of more than a thousand newspapers, including Air Force Times, Army Times, the Defense News, Federal Times, Marine Corps Times, Navy Times, and 23 daily newspapers across the country, including USAToday—is the owner of the Des Moines Register, which has come under heavy criticism for excluding Dennis Kucinich and Mike Gravel from last week’s Democratic debate in Iowa.
Both candidates are strongly against the military-industrial lobbyists’ ability to drive the political and foreign policy agenda in Washington. According to USAToday, the Des Moines Register’s standards for participation in the debate included “at least 1 percent in its statewide poll and an office and paid staff in Iowa.” A Republican candidate who has not campaigned much in Iowa, Alan Keyes, qualified for the Republican debate on those criteria.
Both debates are
accessible on the web from the Iowa Public Television web
Kucinich met the 1 percent threshold, but his campaign is run from a home office rather than a storefront, the traditional venue for campaign headquarters. The Register’s editor, Carolyn Washburn, reportedly told the Kucinich campaign that, "It was our determination that a person working out of his home did not meet our criteria for a campaign office and full-time paid staff in Iowa."
Here are the full criteria, annotated by Jean Hay Bright, a diarist on DailyKos, and unsuccessful Democratic candidate for the US Senate seat for Maine in the 2006 election (for Kiwi readers, “check” is US English for “tick”):
Eligible Participants for Des Moines Register Debates will include Presidential Candidates who:
1. Have filed an FEC Form F-2, "Statement of Candidacy," with the Federal Election Commission; (CHECK)
2. Have publicly announced an intention to run for the nomination of the Republican or the Democratic Party for President of the United States; (CHECK)
3. Have employed at least one paid campaign staff representative to perform full-time campaign duties in the State of Iowa on behalf of the candidate since at least October 1, 2007. (CHECK – Kucinich has had a full-time staffer – an Iowa resident – on board since April)
4. With at least 1% in the Des Moines Register October, 2007, Iowa Poll (CHECK)
5. And lastly, have a Campaign Office inside the State of Iowa as of October 1, 2007 (to which the Kucinich campaign says CHECK, but the Des Moines Register says CHECK-OUT)
In the week before the debate, Hay Bright writes, the Des Moines Register put out a press release saying that six of the eight Democratic candidates for President had "accepted invitations" to the debate.
“What the Des Moines Register press release should have said,” writes Hay Bright, “is that they offered invitations to this debate to only six of the eight nationally recognized Democratic presidential candidates and that all six who were invited accepted. The way they turned that phrase in that news article, the implication is that Dennis Kucinich did not accept the invitation they offered to him.”
An article headlined “Why Kucinich isn’t in the Democratic debate” published at www.desmoinesregister.com on the day before the debate stated: “Six Democratic candidates for president will take the stage at 1 p.m. Thursday in the Des Moines Register’s second presidential debate” and went on to list who they were and what the criteria for selection had been. “Neither Dennis Kucinich nor Mike Gravel had a campaign office in Iowa by the Oct. 1 deadline, according to reports filed with the Federal Election Commission. Gravel also did not have any paid staff in the state by the deadline.”
The article went on to say that the debate could be watched on Iowa Public Television, CNN, MSNBC, Fox News Channel, C-SPAN 3, via web cast at DesMoinesRegister.com and on radio via XM Radio POTUS Channel 150, C-SPAN Radio and Fox News Radio.
The quarterly reports required to be filed with the FEC by candidates’ election committees can be found at http://www.fec.gov/finance/disclosure/srssea.shtml) They are not Excel files, so can only be viewed as HTML images one page at a time, or as PDFs of the images, which means that searching for the word “rent”—how else could you tell from the report what expenditure item relates to having an office?—is a very time-consuming business, let alone the time it takes to download multi-megabyte-sized PDF documents, but the Des Moines Register no doubt has the resources to do so and didn’t find anything that showed Kucinich rented an office in Iowa.
On the other hand, I
can’t see anything in Republican candidate Alan Keyes’
very short October quarterly report to the FEC that he had
paid any money to rent an office:
http://images.nictusa.com/cgi-bin/fecimg/?_27990768940+0. (Pages 10–13 list his disbursements.) Yet he was included in the Republican debate.
The one person who might conceivably be a Keyes staffer lists a PO Box in Lohr, Iowa, as her address and was paid $500 for “travel” and $2000 for “consulting” in September. That same PO Box is the address of a gentleman who was paid $500 for “computer consulting”. By contrast, Kucinich’s paid staff—the man working from his home office—is listed as “field staff” and was paid $1500 twice a month.
Even if I am missing something from my reading of those FEC filings, it is difficult to see how participation in a nationally broadcast debate can justifiably be limited to only those who rent office space in the state from which the broadcasts originate, especially in an age where candidates—as Hillary Clinton did—launch their campaigns from the comfort of their own living rooms via the Internet, and so much organizing and fundraising is done using the Web and email.
Resources about Kucinich:
For a recent,
lengthy, negative article about Kucinich from an online news
source in Cleveland, Ohio, which he represents in Congress,
http://www.clevescene.com/2007-12-05/news/the-king-of-spin/1 and for a positive view from a group of supporters on what he offers the presidency, watch a take-off of a popular early American TV show, Leave it to Beaver, here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qVXI6QzLwDM