Thursday, December 20, 2007

Greens Support Nader and Romanelli Lawsuits Challenging Abuse of Election Processes by Democratic Party

GP-US has issued a press release in support of recent lawsuits undertaken by Ralph Nader and US Senate candidate Carl Romanelli. These lawsuits present evidence of Democratic Party abuse of the legal system, intimidation, and rigging of elections.

Greens Urge Public Support for Nader and Romanelli Lawsuits Alleging Legal Abuse of Elections by Democrats

For Immediate Release: Friday, December 14, 2007

WASHINGTON, DC -- Green Party leaders urged national attention and support for legal efforts by Ralph Nader and Carl Romanelli to ensure fair elections in the face of patently unfair election rules and underhanded tactics by Democratic Party operatives to block Green, other third party, and independent candidates.

"The vicious tactics used by Democrats against Greens and independents in Pennsylvania and other states are comparable to the Republican manipulation of national elections that we witnessed in 2000 and 2004," said Liz Arnone, co-chair of the Green Party of the United States. "In all these cases, Democrats and Republicans alike have betrayed an exclusive sense of entitlement that led them to rig the vote."

"If the courts don't side with Ralph Nader and Carl Romanelli, it'll be taken as a license for both Democrats and Republicans to engage in similar underhanded and outrageous actions to obstruct candidates they don't want to face publicly in a fair election. The American people deserve to know that the future of our elections is at stake," Ms. Arnone added.

Ralph Nader has filed a lawsuit accusing the Democratic Party of "groundless and abusive litigation" to bankrupt the Nader campaign and force him off the ballot in 18 states.

The lawsuit, filed in October on behalf of Mr. Nader, running mate Peter Miguel Camejo, and voters from several states, names as co-defendants the Kerry-Edwards campaign, the Service Employees International Union, private law firms, and several organizations, and claims the latter used underhanded and malicious legal tactics against the Nader campaign. A cadre of Democratic Party lawyers led by Toby Moffett and Elizabeth Holtzman filed 24 lawsuits and five FEC complaints to block the Nader-Camejo independent ticket from state ballots, using legal maneuvers to disrupt bankrupt the campaign.

"The fact that Ralph Nader won the vast majority of these lawsuits and that the FEC dismissed the complaints proved that the lawsuits were an abuse of the legal and election system by Democratic Party lawyers for political purposes," said Mark Dunlea, an attorney active with the Green Party of New York State.

The Nader lawsuit also presents extensive evidence of a conspiracy to harass and intimidate Nader-Camejo petitioners in Ohio, Oregon and Pennsylvania. In Ohio, Democratic lawyers called petitioners and warned them that if they didn't verify signatures they collected they would be guilty of a felony. In Oregon, Democratic operatives urged volunteers to use illegal tactics that would result in having Mr. Nader's ballot petitions voided.

Carl Romanelli has filed an appeal against a court order levying enormous fees and costs against him -- to be paid to Democratic lawyers -- because of disqualified signatures on his 2004 petition to have his name on the Pennsylvania ballot in the 2006 race for the US Senate. Ralph Nader is battling a similar court decision in the wake of a Democratic challenge in Pennsylvania to his petitions to run as an independent candidate for President in 2004.

"The Romanelli and Nader cases don't just expose Pennsylvania's grossly antidemocratic ballot access rules. They show that if you even try to run on a third-party or independent ticket, you're not only in danger of getting tossed off the Pennsylvania ballot, you also risk personal financial ruin," said Phil Huckelberry, co-chair of the national Green Party and Illinois Green, who helped lead his state party's successful ballot access effort in 2006 after Gov. Rod Blagojevich (D) used $800,000 in taxpayers' money attempting to keep Greens off the ballot.

Pennsylvania requires that third party and independent candidates for major office submit over 67,000 signatures, while only requiring 2,000 signatures for Democratic and Republican candidates. After Mr. Romanelli submitted nearly 95,000 petition signatures (more than any candidate in the state's history), lawyers acting on behalf of the Democratic Party undertook a line-by-line challenge of the petitions.

Despite Mr. Romanelli's attempt (with the help of volunteers) to defend the signatures he collected, the court sided with the Democratic Party lawyers and invalidated enough of Mr. Romanelli's signatures to have his name removed from the ballot.

"The judge never looked at our signatures. They just took the word of Democratic Party lawyers," said Mr. Romanelli. "When we were able to show the validity of a large portion of the signatures the Democratic lawyers claimed were invalid, we were not allowed to enter the evidence in court."

The Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court also honored a request from Democratic lawyers to impose punitive expenses on Carl Romanelli because of the disqualified signatures. The court ordered Mr. Romanelli to pay more than $80,000. In Mr. Nader's case, the fine neared $89,000.

"The fees imposed were an attempt to bankrupt me personally. The court also ordered my lawyer to pay expenses for the disqualified signatures, which is like sentencing a defendant's lawyer to prison along with the convicted defendant -- and which intimidates lawyers from representing third party candidates in future disputes," added Mr. Romanelli.

Carl Romanelli is now appealing to the state Supreme Court to reconsider its November 20 decision upholding the lower court ruling. Mr. Romanelli intends to file a federal lawsuit, claiming violation of his First and Fourteenth Amendment rights because his political speech was limited and he was denied due process in his appeals.


Green Party of the United States
Green Party News Center
Green Party Speakers Bureau
Green candidate database for 2007 and other campaign information
Ain't Easy Being Green, 2007 documentary on Carl Romanelli's ballot access fight by Morse-Levin Productions
Romanelli keeps fighting, Citizen's Voice, Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania December 8, 2007
Ralph Nader Files Lawsuit Accusing Democratic Party of Conspiring to Block Presidential Run, Interview with Nader attorney Carl Mayer, Democracy Now!, October 31, 2007
The Wild Wild West of Ballot Access, Polidoc Productions, September 25, 2007
Video clips of July 15 press conference at the Green Party's 2007 national meeting in Reading, Pennsylvania with Ralph Nader, Nader 2004 ballot access attorney Bruce Safran , and Carl Romanelli

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Kucinich Excluded from Iowa Debate

The Hill reported yesterday that Ohio Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D) is being excluded from this week’s Iowa presidential debate because he has not rented office space in Iowa. The Des Moines Register informed the Kucinich campaign that Kucinich is not invited because the newspaper determined “that a person working out of his home did not meet our criteria for a campaign office and full-time paid staff in Iowa.”

The campaign said of the exclusion, “[I]f the Register has decided to use hair-splitting technicalities to exclude the leading voice of the Democratic wing of the Democratic Party, then the entire process is suspect.” The campaign claims that Kucinich has also been barred from public appearances by the Iowa Democratic Party and Iowa Public Television.

Excluding Kucinich from the Iowa debates expands the disturbing trend of excluding important voices from political debates. Third party candidates are frequently excluded, as Ralph Nader found in 2000 and 2004, and as I found in 2006. These exclusions are done against the wishes of most voters. History shows that debate participation by third-party candidates raises debate viewership and voter turnout. The 1992 presidential debates, which included third party candidate Ross Perot, were watched by record-breaking TV audiences, averaging 90 million viewers, with a larger audience for each successive debate. Presidential voter turnout went up in 1992, reversing a 20-year downward trend. In 1996, with Perot excluded, the presidential debates averaged only 41 million viewers -- and voter turnout nosedived. In 1998, participation by third-party candidate Jesse Ventura in the gubernatorial debates in Minnesota generated massive voter turnout.

I hope the Kucinich campaign will commission a poll to find out how Iowa voters feel about his exclusion from the debates.