14 votes

Public TV Station Excludes Libertarian Who Met Qualifications

Grand Rapids, MI – PBS affiliate, WGVU, has violated it’s own standards, IRS tax code, and FCC regulations in order to exclude Libertarian candidate, Scotty Boman from it’s U.S. Senate candidate forums. On October 23rd WGVU organized a forum with Democrat Debbie Stabenow, and Pete Hoekstra, which they first broadcasted on October 24th.

In 1994 Libertarian U.S. Senate candidate Jon Coon litigated his way into that year’s PBS debate, along with the other balloted United States Senate candidates. That ruling was later over-turned with the caveat that broadcasters may exclude candidates only if they have pre-established minimum standards. In 2008, General Manager Michael Walenta provided the following outline of the WGVU standards to Scotty Boman when he ran for U.S. Senate that year:
(1) the person seeking to participate must have qualified for the ballot;
(2) the candidate must be running a visible and comprehensive campaign as determined by WGVU; and
(3) the candidate must show a certain fixed level of support - at least 5% - in professionally conducted public opinion polls.

In 2008 Boman conceded he could not meet criteria 3, because he had not been included in any statewide polls. So he recently contracted a polling firm, on his own, in light of the same partisan bias being built into 2012 polls: “Clearly, the people commissioning state-wide polls decided to infuse them with a partisan bias by only including their two favorite candidates,” said Boman, “So I paid to have a state-wide scientific poll conducted to see how I was doing, and I made this poll more balanced by including the three most active candidates, instead of just two.”

The Poll results showed that Boman met the qualifications to participate in the traditional televised debate on WGVU. The recent poll of nine hundred and seventy likely Michigan voters was conducted on October 5th and 6th by Gravis Marketing -- a national, non-partisan research firm based in Florida. With the Libertarian included as a third option, Democrat Debbie Stabenow polled 48.0% to Republican Pete Hoekstra’s 39.3% with Scotty Boman favored by 7.0%. The remaining 5.7% were undecided or preferred another candidate.

In response to Boman’s Inquiry, Assistant General Manager, Ken Kolbe wrote, “You were not included in our candidate forums because in our opinion you do not meet the eligibility criteria. Specifically, you have failed to show that you have achieved a five percent level of consistent support in legitimate, professional, non-partisan public opinion polls. To our knowledge, the Gravis Marketing poll that you commissioned is the only poll in which you appear. Since it is a one-time poll commissioned by you, it fails to meet the above criteria.”

Boman commented that, “The requirement that I be included in two of these polls appears to be a new requirement designed to get around the fact that I met the original one. Furthermore, the only reason I paid for it, was that the other polls were rigged to favor only two candidates by excluding all others.” Boman also cited an earlier scientific state-wide poll, “I polled 6% as a potential primary candidate in a February 14th study conducted by Public Policy Polling.”

WGVU is an affiliate of 501©(3) organization, PBS. Under the Internal Revenue Code, “…all section 501(c)(3) organizations are absolutely prohibited from directly or indirectly participating in, or intervening in, any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for elective public office…voter education or registration activities with evidence of bias that (a) would favor one candidate over another; (b) oppose a candidate in some manner; or (c) have the effect of favoring a candidate or group of candidates, will constitute prohibited participation or intervention.”

FCC regulations (Title 47 United States Code), Section 399 reads, “No noncommercial educational broadcasting station may support or oppose any candidate for public office.” The FCC may revoke a station’s license or permit for willful or repeated failure to comply with such regulations.

“Ken Kolbe, needs to wake and smell the coffee; the jig is up. The façade of non-partisanship has been lifted, and what we find is bias toward Libertarians. They acknowledged me as a candidate when I was a Republican, but now that I have done twice as much campaigning and switched back to being a Libertarian, I am no longer relevant. The real reason for exclusion always has been the party label; the other excuses have been exhausted.” Said Boman.

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I will DEFFINATELY be voting for Scotty Boman. And I would love to have a phone number to WGVU......

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