The Complaint  [PDF]
June 22, 2015

Joint Statement by the Plaintiffs

“Americans want a more open and competitive political system: 62% of Americans say they are prepared to vote for a non-major party candidate in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. But the Commission on Presidential Debates is violating federal law by using non-objective, biased rules designed to exclude independent and third-party candidates from the fall presidential debates and perpetuate the Democratic-Republican duopoly. The Federal Election Commission, whose chief has admitted the agency is “worse than dysfunctional,” has failed to enforce the law or act on a petition for rulemaking that would reform the debate rules to ensure fair access to non-major- party candidates.

Plaintiffs are therefore bringing this legal action to reform our system to allow Americans the opportunity they deserve to hear from voices other than the two major parties in our country's fall presidential debates. Plaintiffs may not share the same political perspectives, but we are united in our belief that the American people are entitled to greater competition and choice in elections for federal office.”

About the Plaintiffs

Alexandra Shapiro, Lead Counsel – Alexandra Shapiro is the star litigator leading the effort on behalf of Level the Playing Field (LPF), the successor to Americans Elect, LPF’s chairman, Peter Ackerman, the Green Party and the Libertarian Party. Shapiro, a former federal prosecutor and former U.S. Supreme Court clerk, has won a series of high-profile victories overturning convictions by New York U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara’s office, including the highly-publicized reversal earlier this month due to massive juror fraud of a Deutsche Bank broker’s conviction, as well as the landmark Newman insider trading case, the Ernst & Young $1 billion tax shelter case, and several other major white collar cases. She also defeated the FEC’s effort to shut down the entity that became Americans Elect in a 2010 victory in the D.C. Circuit.

Level the Playing Field – LTPF is a nonpartisan, nonprofit corporation not affiliated with any candidate or candidate committee. Its purpose is to promote reforms that allow for greater competition and choice in elections for federal office, particularly for the Presidency and Vice Presidency.

The Green Party -- The Green Party of the United States (GPUS) is a confederation of state green parties that campaign to elect Green Party candidates at all levels of government to promote the party's core values of ecological wisdom, social justice, grass roots democracy and non-violence. GPUS was recognized as a political party in 2001 following Ralph Nader's presidential campaigns in 1996 and 2000. The Green Party is one of the largest independent parties in the United States, having elected hundreds of candidates to local offices and ranking fourth in terms of votes received in the 2012 presidential election. GPUS presidential candidate Jill Stein challenged her exclusion from the 2012 presidential debates and joined forces with other excluded presidential candidates to promote alternative presidential debates.

The Libertarian Party -- The Libertarian Party was founded in 1971 and is the third largest political party in the country. Libertarians believe the answer to America's political problems is the same commitment to freedom that earned America its greatness: a free-market economy and the abundance and prosperity it brings; a dedication to civil liberties and personal freedom; and a foreign policy of non-intervention, peace, and free trade as prescribed by America's founders. The Libertarian Party has nominated presidential candidates during every presidential election since it was founded in 1971. Its nominees have systematically been excluded from the presidential debates by the CPD since it adopted its current illegal rules in 2000. Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson challenged his exclusion from the 2012 presidential debates and joined forces with other excluded presidential candidates to promote alternative presidential debates.

Dr. Peter Ackerman – Peter Ackerman is the managing director of Rockport Capital Inc., a private investment firm. From 1978 to 1990, he was an investment banker at Drexel Burnham Lambert. He served for fifteen years as chairman of the board of overseers of the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University and was chairman of the board of Freedom House. He is the founding chair of the International Center on Nonviolent Conflict (ICNC). Dr. Ackerman is also a member of the U.S. Advisory Council of the United States Institute of Peace and the Paralympic Advisory Committee of the U.S. Olympic Committee.

June 22, 2015

Contact: Joe Hunter


June 22, 2015, Salt Lake City, UT -- Calling it the "next step” in changing the two-party control of presidential debates,  2012 Libertarian presidential candidate Gov.Gary Johnson today noted the filing of a lawsuit against the Federal Election Commission ( FEC).


The lawsuit, filed Monday in U.S. District Court in Washington, DC, challenges the FEC’s treatment of the private Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD) as non-partisan, citing the CPD’s use of polling criteria to effectively limit participation to only the Republican and Democrat candidates. Plaintiffs in the case include the Libertarian Party and the Green Party

as well as Level the Playing Field and noted supporter Peter Ackerman.


Johnson is the Honorary Chairman of the Our America Initiative, a nonprofit organization which is advocating a change in the Presidential debates. Johnson noted that in addition to the FEC lawsuit additional legal complaints will soon be filed to challenge the Commission on Presidential Debate"s control over the Presidential debates.


In a statement released Monday, the former New Mexico Governor said, “The last time a third party or independent candidate was allowed to participate in nationally televised general election presidential debates was 1992. The reason is simple. The Commission on Presidential
Debates, which controls the debates, was created by the Republican and Democrat Parties and remains under that two-party control today. This lawsuit against the FEC is an important step toward stripping the veneer off the CPD and treating it as what it really is: A partisan
organization that exists to protect the two-party dominance of the political process.


“By opening another ‘front’ in the battle against unfairly limited presidential debates, this recent FEC legal challenge strengthens the soon-to-be-filed second lawsuit being coordinated by the Our America Initiative, and adds credible voices to the growing discontent with the CPD’s persistent exclusion of qualified third party and independent candidates from the nationally-televised debate stage.”



For Immediate Release:
Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Scott McLarty, Media Coordinator
Starlene Rankin, Media Coordinator

Green Party, 2012 Green presidential nominees are among the plaintiffs in the "Our America Initiative" law suit against the Commission on Presidential Debates

• The law suit aims to end private control over presidential debates by the Democratic and Republican parties

• Video: "Commission on Presidential Debates -- Time to Change"

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The Green Party leaders expressed strong support for the "Our America Initiative" law suit and initiatives of the Free and Equal Elections Foundation ( against the Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD). The Green Party and Libertarian Party are among several plaintiffs in the suit.

The law suit ( would end private control over presidential debates by the Democratic and Republican parties, which took over the debates from the League of Women Voters in 1987 in order to exclude other parties' candidates and independents and to manipulate the format of the debates for their own benefit. The CPD is a private firm founded by the two parties.

Other plaintiffs in the law suit include the Green Party's 2012 national nominees, Jill Stein and running mate Cheri Honkala, and presidential and vice-presidential nominees from the Libertarian Party and Justice Party (

"The CPD is funded by corporations that have an interest in restricting the presidential debates to the nominees of political parties that are awash in corporate contributions and influence. Fair debates would include all presidential candidates who are on enough state ballots to win, if enough people voted for them," said Audrey Clement, co-chair of the Green Party of the United States.

"Greens urge the major media to recognize that the CPD debates represent an attempt to limit voters' choice of candidates and restrict the range of discussion about important issues. We encourage the media to host inclusive debates outside of the CPD's control. Americans deserve the right to learn about all the candidates who'll be on the ballot, and to vote for a candidate who best represents their interests and ideals without being told that only two candidates are legitimate," said Ms. Clement.

In 2012, the Free and Equal Elections Foundation sponsored a debate on October 23, 2012 featuring four alternative-party presidential candidates: Dr. Stein (Green Party), Gov. Gary Johnson (Libertarian Party), Virgil Goode (Constitution Party), and Rocky Anderson (Justice Party). The debate was moderated by Larry King and Christina Tobin and aired on RT TV, Al-Jazeera, and C-SPAN.

"Apologists for the status quo like to say that there's something natural and inevitable about a political system limited to two parties. In reality, Democratic and Republican politicians have rigged elections with anti-democratic state laws that privilege their own candidates and obstruct other parties. The takeover of the presidential debates by the CPD shows the same bipartisan collusion," said Karen Young, co-chair of the Green Party.

"It's time to end this exercise in blatant corruption. Any 'natural' tendency of our winner-take-all at-large elections towards a two-party political field can be corrected with reforms like Instant Runoff Voting and Proportional Representation," said Ms. Young.

Green Party leaders noted that the best ideas and reforms in U.S. history have come from alternative parties, and said that an independent progressive leadership is imperative in a century in which the two "war-and-Wall-Street parties" are leading America in dangerous directions.

"The legacy of third parties in the U.S. includes abolition of slavery, women’s suffrage, the eight-hour workday, workers’ benefits, public schools, unemployment compensation, the minimum wage, child labor laws, direct election of senators, and programs like Social Security and Medicare. All of these were introduced by third parties and adopted later by one or both of the major parties. The near-disappearance of third parties on the left in the second half of the 20th century is one of the great unmentioned reasons for the triumph of the right wing in both major parties." ("Hillary Won't Save Us, Neither Will Bernie or Liz," by Scott McLarty,, April 13,

See also:

Green Party joins the Our America Initiative to sue Commission on Presidential Debates

Our America Initiative

Secret Control of the Presidential Debates
Project Censored: The News That Didn't Make The News


Green Party of the United States
• Green candidate database and campaign information:
• Facebook page

Green Pages: The official publication of record of the Green Party of the United States

Green Shadow Cabinet

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