September 23, 2008
Contact: Green Party Congressional Candidates
NORWALK, CT—The League of Women Voters of Connecticut (LWVCT) will not be including any third-party candidates in the 2008 Congressional election debates in Connecticut. A number of debates have already been scheduled in each of the five Congressional districts, but these debates will be between only the Democratic and Republican contenders. None of the Green, Independent, or Libertarian candidates will be allowed to participate.
In a letter sent to several aspiring candidates on Monday, League Vice President Pat Donovan wrote: "Using criteria reaffirmed by the League of Women Voters in April of 2007, and re-affirmed in April 2008, the committee made a determination that your candidacy does not meet all of our criteria. Therefore, unfortunately, we must deny your eligibility to participate in League-sponsored debates during the 2008 election season."
The letter went on to enumerate the criteria, including level of campaign funds, documentation of positions, and voter outreach, which the League judged the candidates had failed to meet.
Candidates responded with surprise and outrage at what they saw as the lack of democratic spirit and transparency in the League’s decision.
Harold Burbank II, Green Party candidate in the 5th District, said, "Nowhere in the state or federal Constitutions, nor in any state or federal law, does it say one must have a certain budget, or position papers, or any of the other criteria listed in the attached debate rejection letter to run for federal or any office. Nowhere in these laws nor in any other place does it say the voters of Connecticut demand these criteria.
"Apparently the League believes in corporate sponsored campaigns alone, which is plainly where the major parties get their millions of dollars to run campaigns suggested by League debate rejection criteria. My experience tells me the voters do not support just corporate candidates; but rather the opposite. They still believe in one (wo)man, one vote, open elections, open election processes and open debates. To Greens, the League, by its debate rejection criteria, reveals itself as part of the problem of illegitimate democracy in this country, rather than a true champion of democracy."
Burbank promised that the Green Party would stage lawful protests at each debate. To that end, his campaign has already rented the room adjacent to the debate hall for the scheduled debate in Litchfield October 22.
Richard Duffee, Green Party candidate in the 4th District, countered each of the League’s criticisms of his campaign.
"The Constitution and state law have no monetary requirement for congressional candidacy. Besides, nowhere has the League published the level of funding they consider a threshold to legitimacy." Duffee further observed that in 2006, the League admitted Libertarian candidate Phil Maymin into debates after he had raised $8,000. The Duffee campaign has raised over $9,000 and yet he is excluded.
"In terms of position papers, my website has more documentation than [Democratic candidate] Jim Himes’. And as for outreach, I was told that the League wanted to see lawn signs or bumper stickers around the district. As an environmental party that refuses corporate funding, these are hardly things we can be enthusiastic about."
G. Scott Deshefy, Green Party candidate in the 2nd District, felt it was a sad day for democracy in Connecticut.
"Mostly, I feel sorry for the membership of the LWVCT for these misguided actions, actions contrary to what the LWVCT may actually believe is a mission of assisting Connecticut voters," he said.
More information about the Green Party candidates can be found on the website, www.ctgreens.org
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