|OPB sent a response to an inquiry regarding election debates indicating that they are considering NOT including EVERY QUALIFIED CANDIDATE for a given office. We've sent them a letter in response, and are prepared to take legal action if they proceed scheduling a debate without including a qualified Pacific Green Party candidate. Full text of letter below the fold. Do take a moment to contact OPB and share your concerns.|
Steve Bass 1 October 2014
OPB President and CEO
7140 SW Macadam Avenue
Portland, OR 97219
Dear Mr. Bass,
On 23rd September 2014 I sent an email to OPB regarding scheduling of debates between candidates for governor, a copy of which is enclosed, along with the disappointing response I received today from Rachel Snow, OPB Associate Director of Membership Operations, also enclosed.
As OPB is a public non-profit entity and a federal tax-exempt organization, it does not have discretion to pick and choose among ballot qualified candidates. Should OPB decide to proceed with a debate which excludes those candidates who are ballot qualified under Oregon law, our candidate for Governor will suffer immediate and irreparable harm which would provide the basis for a court to provide injunctive relief.
The role of PUBLIC media is not to act as a censor or gatekeeper. While you may opine on which candidates are "serious" or "visible," you may not exclude any ballot qualified candidate from a debate which you sponsor. To do so is a clear violation of both your federal tax-exempt status and the Oregon Constitution.
I appreciate your prompt consideration of this matter and look forward to OPB ensuring fair treatment of ALL ballot qualified candidates.
Pacific Green Party of Oregon
Cc: Blair Bobier, Pacific Green Party of Oregon Legal Counsel
Rachel Snow, OPB Associate Director of Membership Operations
State Coordinating Committee, Pacific Green Party of Oregon
Subject: Programming Comment
From: OPB Member Center (email@example.com)
Date: Wednesday, October 1, 2014 9:12 AM
Type your response ABOVE THIS LINE to reply
Subject: OPB "Governor" Debate
OCT 01, 2014 | 09:12AM PDT
Rachael Snow replied:
Thanks for contacting us about the debates. We take our responsibility to serve our listeners valuable and non-partisan election coverage very seriously.
Who to include in political debates is a difficult decision, perhaps made even more tricky by the presence of Measure 90 this year, which raises the possibility that in future elections, only two (the “top two”) candidates will appear on the ballot.
Our news editors set fairly basic criteria that a candidate must be attempting to run a statewide campaign if they are seeking a statewide office. It doesn’t have to be expensive, but it has to be authentic (no campaigning just to promote one’s business—a real example, by the way). They should have some actual positions on issues, and make those available to people. We look for evidence that they are adhering to any financial reporting requirements they are subject to as candidates, even if they’re not raising much money. And depending on the race, we do factor in poll results.
Depending on the office, if a person is not registering above about 5% in polls, they are virtually invisible to the electorate. The purpose of a debate is not to raise the visibility of invisible candidates, but to explore serious candidates’ differences on issues in ways that will help voters make up their minds.
We appreciate your sharing your perspective and will certainly share it with our news editors.
Associate Director of Membership Operations
SEP 23, 2014 | 09:31AM PDT
I noted that on Monday OPB scheduled a "debate" between only two - those from the
corporate parties - of the qualified candidates for governor. I'd like an explanation of why
OPB decided to censor participation in the debate and limit views broadcast to Oregon
voters. Polls have repeatedly shown voters want other options. If it is up to voters to
decide which candidate to support based on information provided, then OPB has done a
grave disservice to Oregon voters.
This message was sent to firstname.lastname@example.org in reference to Case #: 120035.