Randall Terry, the purported Democratic candidate for president in 2012 who failed to get graphic antiabortion advertising aired during the recent Super Bowl telecast, is back, trying to get his ads on the air in Oklahoma, where he is on the Democratic primary ballot. According to a story in Tulsa World, broadcasters are afraid to turn down the ads. According to attorney Gregg Skall who has done considerable work in this area, there is ample precedent to keep Terry off the airwaves.
TW quoted Houston Hunt of Griffin Communications, operator of stations in both Tulsa and Oklahoma City, who noted that the law requires his stations to run political advertisements as submitted. Terry’s name on the ballot would appear to justify his request to buy air time and run the content of his own choice. A Tulsa attorney also stated that opinion.
But Gregg Skall of Womble Carlyle Sandridge & Rice LLP disagrees. He said all the work done previously sorting out a similar situation with Lyndon LaRouche offers ample evidence that broadcasters need not treat Terry as a viable bona fide candidate.
“The FCC has yet to address the Randall Terry issue presented by LaRouche v Fowler, in which the federal courts held that the First Amendment right of association allows the political parties to determine who is and who is not a legitimate candidate for their party’s nomination,” Skall told RBR-TVBR.
“The January 27 letter of Patrick Gaspard, Executive Director of the Democratic National Committee, establishes that Randall Terry cannot be a candidate for the Democratic Party nomination for President of the United States. One would think that the U.S. Constitution and the judgment of the federal courts, affirmed by the U.S. Supreme Court, should trump an administrative agency rule that never contemplated the circumstances presented in LaRouche and now by Randall Terry. The FCC should put this matter to rest.”
RBR-TVBR observation: The purpose of protecting the advertising messages of bona fide candidates is to prevent broadcast management that might oppose a candidate from restricting the candidate’s access to voters. It is not to allow party machinery to be hijacked by an individual with an axe to grind. We call on the FCC to state the rules on this matter clearly, with as broad a brush as possible.