PRESS RELEASE: Libertarians, Greens, Independents Prepare for Four-Year Boycott of Anheuser-Busch after National Press Club Fiasco CPD

Letter of Intent Delivered to Anheuser-Busch CEOs, Challenged to Encourage Fair Debates

[United States, September 1, 2020] - Thousands of members of third parties, independents, and Republican and Democrat voters across the nation watched as the National Press Club President, Michael Freedman interviewed the trio of Co-Chairs of the Commission on Presidential Debates, posing questions submitted by members of the National Press Club as well as voters across the country. During the livestreamed event, thousands of online participants flooded the comment section with echoes of "#LetHerSpeak," and "#OpenTheDebates." Support for third-party candidates Dr. Jo Jorgensen (L) and Howie Hawkins (G) was loud and clear.

Freedman held the commission to task on issues of debate exclusion, including the 15% polling minimum requirement, challenging them on the subject by asking if it is a fair determining factor if the polls will not include the names of candidates that appear on all 50 state ballots. 

In light of the CPD's exclusionary tactics, a group of Libertarians have launched have launched an initiative called #BudBoycott, with support from Green Party members other independent and third-party voters, to put pressure on Anheuser-Busch and their subsidiaries to encourage the CPD to remove the 15% polling qualifier for candidates who are on enough ballots to receive 270 electoral votes. The group has sent a letter of intent to Anheuser-Busch CEOs Carlos Brito and Marcelo Michaelis.

We ask that Anheuser-Busch agrees to publicly encourage and work with the Commission on Presidential Debates to invite all candidates who have achieved the ballot access threshold that gives them the mathematical possibility of earning the minimum of 270 electoral votes required to win the presidential election.

Should the CPD refuse to change their requirement regarding this qualification on or before Sept 10 by eliminating the “15% in selected polls,” stipulation, we ask that Anheuser-Busch agree to step down as a sponsor from all future debates until such changes are made.

"We hope to encourage all stake-holders of debate sponsors to put pressure on them to do the right thing and give the people the chance to be heard,” said Jennifer Flower, Libertarian. 

Anheuser-Busch has been the largest and longest-running sponsor of the presidential debates and have a long history of partisan support to include massive donations to Republican PACs and hosting publicity events for Republican politicians and political hopefuls. 

"American voters deserve better," Lauren Mckinnon, CEO of Vis Branding, a national marketing and public relations firm hired by the organizers of #BudBoycott to represent the initiative. "I have worked with candidates from all parties big and small, running for every office from non-partisan Sheriff to Governor of New York against Andrew Cuomo. The most important part of my job is to listen to people, to understand what they want. And I can tell you the message that has been most loud and clear in 2020, even more so than in years past, is that voters need options. They don't like what they see in the Republican or Democratic Parties. What I hear most often when speaking to voters is that they do not feel represented by the two old parties and that they feel disenfranchised by polling companies and the CPD who refuse to let voices like theirs have a platform.”

Multiple studies and polls, including one by USA Today, have been conducted over the years, many since the 2016 election with Gary Johnson (L), that not only show more than three-quarters of Americans believe that there should be more voices on the debate stage, but that voters believe the 15% minimum polling rule is intentionally unfair. 

"Every time a third party meets a threshold, they move the goalposts. We see this time and time again. Not just with polling minimums for inclusion, but also in State Board of Elections across the country who continually up the filing fees and signature requirements for third parties,” said Mckinnon. “This is a very deep-rooted problem in our system that shuts down the voices of so many Americans. There is something very off when you look at the behaviors of media, polling agencies, debate sponsors and the CPD when it comes to legitimate third party candidates who have met every other threshold of constitutional qualification and 50 state ballot access. You cannot possibly meet a 15% threshold in polls if they won't say your name. It's just not a realistic threshold to meet."

Throughout the event, the Co-Chairs of the CPD doubled down on their position that the debates are only open to Republicans and Democrats.

“At that time (1988) I was the Chairman of the Republican National Committee, Paul Kirk was the Chairman of the Democratic National Committee and we got together and the net result was the Commission on Presidential Debates,’ said Frank J. Fahrenkopf, Jr., Co-Chair of the Commission on Presidential Debates, further exposing the foundation of the commission to be bi-partisan rather than non-partisan.

When asked by Freedman (from an emailed question), “How feasible is it for 3rd party candidates to meet poll requirements without poll inclusion? Would you be willing to consider alternative access requirements like ballot access requirements.” Dorothy S. Ridings ignored the question, saying, “They do have ballot access requirements!”

Later, when asked more specifically about Dr. Jorgensen (L) and Hawkins (G), the only two candidates outside of the Republican and Democratic Parties who have enough ballot access to achieve the necessary 270 electoral votes, Ridings replied “…you just can’t pick and choose out of the 200 or so people who are running whether or not they should be on the stage.” There are not 200 candidates with ballot access. There are only 2. Further illustrating that the commission is either out of touch with the reality of who does and does not have ballot access or are lying to the public.