Republican presidential candidate Fred Karger filed a sworn complaint with the Federal Election Commission (FEC) on Thursday, requesting an investigation into his exclusion by Fox News from the August 11 GOP presidential debate in Ames, Iowa.
Karger, the first openly gay candidate to ever seek a major-party presidential nomination, contends that he met all of the objective criteria established for inclusion in the debate, including garnering an average of one percent of the vote in five national polls, but that Fox News executives arbitrarily changed the rules after the fact to deny him a spot in the nationally-televised debate.
Karger, who became the first candidate to officially enter the race for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination when he announced his candidacy nearly seventeen months ago, sent a letter to Fox News on August 5 — six days before the nationally-televised debate — stating that his 2 percent showing in the latest Harris Interactive Poll had qualified him for a spot in the Ames debate.
Coupled with his 1% showing in two separate Zogby polls and a similar showing in a Fox News Poll released on April 28, Karger, who polled less than 1% in a McClatchy-Marist Poll on June 29, maintained at the time that his two percent showing in the Harris Interactive Poll, released on August 4, was enough to earn him a spot in the Iowa debate.
The Harris Poll, one of the world’s oldest and most respected public opinion polls, surveyed 1,168 registered Republican and independent voters between August 2-4
Fox disagreed, maintaining that four of the surveys cited by the long-shot Republican presidential hopeful — including the one conducted by Harris — were online surveys that did not meet their criteria. A Fox spokesman also said that an April 28 Fox News poll was too old to be considered a valid indication of Karger’s current strength.
Karger personally delivered a copy of his 158-page complaint to Rupert Murdoch, the chairman and CEO of News Corporation, at his headquarters in New York on Thursday.
In his letter to Murdoch and other Fox executives, including Roger Ailes, president of Fox News, Karger maintained that the August 11 debate “no longer appears exempt from federal campaign contribution laws” and that the Fox News Channel may have been guilty of making illegal in-kind corporate contributions to the tune of $100 million to the eight debate participants.
That figure, he said, included two hours of free prime-time television — reaching an estimated audience of 5.1 million viewers — for all eight participants, as well as several weeks of free media coverage before and after the Fox-sponsored debate.
“We tried repeatedly over a several week period to contact Fox News Channel personnel concerning my qualifications for the debate without success,” concluded Karger in his letter to Murdoch. “After I met your ‘pre-established objective criteria,’ I wrote two letters; one on August 5th and the other August 8th and received no response. My staff even called various Fox News Channel offices and bureaus repeatedly. Still no response.”
In his letter to the FEC, the Laguna Beach political consultant-turned-presidential candidate called for an immediate investigation of Fox News, which is sponsoring its next presidential debate in Orlando on September 22 on the eve of Florida’s Presidency 5 straw poll.
“I am the first openly gay major party candidate to ever run for President of the United States,” Karger wrote in his letter to the six FEC commissioners. “I have experienced many doors slammed in my face by individuals and outside political organizations during the past eighteen months, but this blatant affront by Fox News executives smacks of discrimination and I hope the Commission will investigate post-haste.”
Maintaining that “the selection of the Republican nominee for President of the United States should be an open, honest and fair process,” Karger told the Daily Caller on Tuesday that he’s confident the FEC would treat his complaint seriously. “I think that this is so clear-cut that they would be in agreement, and almost obligated [to investigate],” he said.