RFK Jr. files FEC complaint over CNN debate rules

RFK Jr. files FEC complaint over CNN debate rules

Independent presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. has filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission (FEC) over CNN’s debate rules, claiming the network “colluded” with President Biden and former President Trump’s campaigns to keep him off the first presidential debate slated for June.

Kennedy’s complaint, filed on Wednesday, alleges that CNN along with Trump, Biden and their campaigns “collectively” engaged in “flagrant” violations of the Federal Election Campaign Act to not have the independent candidate on the network’s June 27 debate.

“The violations occurred when, based on available evidence, 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,”  Lorenzo Holloway, the attorney for the independent candidate said in the complaint addressed to Lisa J. Stevenson, the FEC’s acting General Counsel.

“CNN is making prohibited corporate contributions to both campaigns and the Biden committee and the Trump committee have accepted these prohibited corporate contributions,” he added.

Earlier this month, both Trump and Biden agreed to have two debates, one hosted by CNN and the other by ABC, which is scheduled for September. The agreement also spurned the Commission on Presidential Debates, which has facilitated presidential debates since 1988.

CNN said the complaint was baseless since, for now, Kennedy does not meet the network’s polling criteria and has yet to gain ballot access needed to win the White House bid.

“The law in virtually every state provides that the nominee of a state-recognized political party will be allowed ballot access without petitioning, ” a CNN spokesperson said in a statement.

“As the presumptive nominees of their parties both Biden and Trump will satisfy this requirement,” the spokesperson said. “As an independent candidate, under applicable laws RFK, Jr. does not.

“The mere application for ballot access does not guarantee that he will appear on the ballot in any state. In addition, RFK, Jr. does not currently meet our polling criteria, which, like the other objective criteria, were set before issuing invitations to the debate,” the CNN spokesperson said.

CNN stated that presidential contenders need to get at least 15 percent in four national polls and have their name on the ballot in enough states to be able to get 270 electoral votes, the minimum needed to win the Electoral College.

Kennedy’s campaign said they had submitted signatures to get on the ballot in nine states, most recently adding New York which carries 28 electoral votes.

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