California Election Forum Would Rather Cancel Event Than Include Third Party Candidates

The California Election Forum was scheduled to host an event today featuring candidates for elected office – presumably governor among others – in the Golden State. The organization's website now features an announcement that the event has been canceled "due to unforeseen circumstances":
California Election Forum. EVENT CANCELED. Due to unforeseen circumstances the California Election Forum that was scheduled for Sunday March 7th at 3PM has been canceled. We apologize for any inconvenience.
A web and news search turns up very little information on this event and the "unforeseen circumstances" surrounding its cancellation. If a recent press release is to be believed, however, it appears that the cancellation is a direct result of efforts by the campaign to elect Chelene Nightingale for governor, which is affiliated with the American Independent Party:
According to the California Election Forum website the event scheduled for this coming Sunday, March 7th at 3:00 PM has been “cancelled due to unforeseen circumstances”. Earlier this week the Nightingale For Governor campaign was informed of an election forum for all candidates hosted by a 501.(C)(3) religious organization. Our campaign contacted the organizer for information as to how to participate and received notification that the event was only for Democrat and Republican candidates. Therefore, our campaign would not be allowed to participate in the forum.

Campaign manager and military veteran, John Baldwin, declared in a press release “I find this "Party First, America Second" mindset extremely troubling when California is facing complete bankruptcy and the worst economic recession in decades! Why are we limiting our solutions by excluding good candidates?”

A press release and an announcement of the event from a popular Los Angeles Christian radio talk show prompted concerned voters to contact the campaign and the election forum organizers, only to find out the discouraging news. Due to overwhelming voter response, Mr. Baldwin decided to organize a rally outside the scheduled election forum.

Later in the week, gubernatorial candidate Chelene Nightingale, was contacted by a member of the religious community and was urged to find a peaceful solution. Ms. Nightingale agreed and corresponded with the election forum organizer. Unfortunately after corresponding, third party candidates were still not allowed to participate. The Nightingale for Governor Campaign understands the decision of the organizers, however, believes that "two party" politics has undermined freedom and liberty yet again. “Voters should be allowed the opportunity to hear all candidates regardless of party affiliation, not just the big money, special interest two party candidates the establishment forces upon voters”, stated Ms. Nightingale. She continued, “We the people must stop accepting the status quo which has undermined our liberty and freedom of choice.”

The situation also raises questions about churches and their 501.(C)(3) tax statuses. Current Tax Laws prohibit 501.(C)(3) Non-Profit groups from engaging in partisan politics. The exclusion of third parties at candidate election forums puts any 501.(C)(3) in violation of current tax codes and subject to penalty under the law.
This effort should be seen as a potential model for all third party and independent candidates excluded from forums hosted by 501(c)(3) organizations.

No comments: