Gary Johnson files FEC, FCC complaints over debate exclusion

Gary Johnson’s presidential campaign is filing an official complaint with both the Federal Election Commission (FEC) and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) over their candidate’s exclusion from the most recent GOP debate, Johnson’s campaign announced Tuesday.

Johnson’s complaint charges that debate sponsor CBS significantly contributed to the candidates who were allowed to participate in the debate, "directly and significantly supporting those candidates it favors, and advocating the nomination of one of their favorites and opposing the nomination of [Johnson], whom CBS evidently disfavors."

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Johnson’s campaign has protested his exclusion from debates in the past through various means, typically using email and social media.

The former New Mexico governor has been excluded from most of the presidential debates, failing to meet various requirements set by debate hosts. Hosts have cited his low polling numbers — typically under 2 percent — and in at least one case the fact that Johnson had not participated in enough of the other nationally televised debates.

Johnson has participated in two of the national debates this election cycle, including September’s debate in Florida, where he made a memorable contribution with a joke about President Obama’s “shovel ready” jobs. 

In October, Johnson picked up support from fellow GOP presidential contender Newt Gingrich for his complaint against debate hosts who had excluded him from debates over his poll numbers. Johnson was tied at the time in the polls with Rick Santorum, who has been included in most debates.

Saturday’s debate, co-hosted by CBS and National Journal, was the first debate to air on broadcast television. According to Johnson’s complaint, “the public owns the airways over which CBS broadcasts, and the public deserves to be free from bias — favoring some candidates over others — as well as illegal support of certain presidential candidates on national network television.”