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by Ralph Nader
Thursday, Oct. 12, 2000 at 8:34 PM
Nader sent the following letter to the Co-Chairmen of Commission on Presidential Debates last week, concerning the outrageous way he was treated at the first Presidential debate.
Mr. Frank J. Fahrenkopf, Jr.
Mr. Paul G. Kirk, Jr.
Co-Chairmen Commission on Presidential Debates
Dear Mssrs. Fahrenkopf and Kirk:
On Tuesday night October 3, 2000, I attempted to view the first presidential debate hosted by the Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD) at the University of Massachusetts. Though I have been excluded from participating in the debates by the arbitrary and unfair standards set by your private, bi-partisan company, I was given a transferable ticket by a university student to observe the debates in a separate auditorium reserved apart from the corporate-sponsored audience in attendance for the two-party show. I planned to view the debates so that I could appear as a guest to comment on the debates later that evening on a live broadcast by Fox News Channel from a trailer occupied by them, at the debate site, with the full permission of the CPD.
En route to the event, ticket in hand, and members of the press present and recording everything at my side, I was met by a security consultant, Mr. John Vezeris, who was flanked by three uniformed state troopers. The security consultant, while declining to present any credentials, told me that he was "instructed by the Commission" to advise me that "it's already been decided that, whether or not you have a ticket, you are not invited." One of the police officers told me that I would face arrest if I continued to remain on the premises. The security consultant repeatedly refused to divulge who from the CPD ordered this action and subsequent attempts by my campaign to establish who ordered this coercive expulsion with the aid of police officers have not resulted in any names. I was stopped a second time by the same police when I attempted to visit the news trailer for a broadcast I was formally invited to do by Fox News Chief Executive Roger Ailes and which had been arranged from the premises. According to today's media reports, Mr. Kirk claims I was excluded as a "point man for the protests," when I took no part in those protests and when demonstrations by pro-Gore supporters did not result in similar exclusionary treatment for Vice-President Gore. As the Green Party candidate for the office of President, I am not used to being barred by police officers from attending public events for which I hold a ticket. Nor am I accustomed to being physically prevented from attending approved on-site newscasts and reaching national audiences from venues where I am invited to appear. Indeed, the Commission's decision to deploy public officers at a public university to bar me from viewing the presidential debates and participating at a subsequent onsite newscast because of my political viewpoints and affiliation with the Green Party violates both Massachusetts State and federal civil rights laws.
Accordingly, in the spirit of a proposed settlement offer for this outrageous and unlawful behavior, I am seeking the following by 10 a.m. Tuesday morning October 10th:
1) An official, written apology from both of you, on behalf of Governor George W. Bush and Vice President Albert Gore, Jr.
2) A contribution of ,000 to the nonprofit The Appleseed Center for Electoral Reform at Harvard Law School.
3) An assurance that I will not be barred from attending any other CPD presidential debate venues for which I have an invitation from the press or a ticket.
Should you not respond by Tuesday morning to these three requests, the Nader 2000 Campaign will pursue its legal remedies on Tuesday, October 10th.
Ms. Janet H. Brown, Executive Director
Vice-President Albert Gore, Jr.
Governor George W. Bush
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