The campaign ads of purported write-in candidate Glenn Miller, seeking a seat in the US Senate, are of a nature that members of the Missouri Broadcasters Association do not wish to run them. MBA, along with MO AG Chris Koster, are asking the FCC for a declaratory ruling on the legitimacy of Miller’s candidacy, and have produced a smoking gun suggesting the campaign is a sham designed to force his hateful messages on the air.
Gregg Skall of Womble Carlyle Sandridge & Rice PLLC, who did much of the heavy lifting on the filing, told RBR-TVBR, “This petition demonstrates that there is considerable, legitimate doubt that Frazier Glenn Miller qualifies as a bona fide write-in candidate for United States Senator from Missouri as required under the Communications Act and FCC rules and is not entitled to mandatory reasonable access to Missouri broadcasting stations. We await the FCC’s confirmation of this view.”
Zimmer Radio of Mid Missouri also participated in the filing, hoping to keep Miller off of its three-market, nine-station Missouri-based radio group. A Clear Channel market manager was involved, as was attorney Mark Sableman of law firm Thompson Coburn LLP.
There is a three-pronged test to determine whether a campaign is legitimate, including a public announcement of intent to run; meeting of legal requirements for the specific office, such as age, residence, etc.; and qualification for a spot on the ballot, or in the case of a write-in candidate such as Miller, a substantial showing that the candidacy is bona fide.
The burden of proof on the latter prong is on the write-in candidate, and MAB/Koster suggest it has not been met.
Here is a smoking gun: Miller used a message board at vnnforum.org to note that stations are required to run advertising for candidates; and that he would declare a candidacy and then start running ads. He said, “Federal elections offer public speaking opportunities we can’t afford to pass up, and come only once every 2 years.” And added, “So who’ll pledge financial support here and now, so I can decide whether or not to run? And say how much.”
The filing says, “…Miller has made statements…that indicate he is treating the election season as a way to make broadcasters carry his messages rather than a legitimate opportunity to seek public office…” They argue, “All government privileges must be guarded so that they are not misused.” They cite several precedents to argue that “…special rights…should not be available for someone who is not a bona fide candidate, who seeks to misuse that statute to broadcast non-campaign messages.” They point out that it was not the intent of Congress to provide “can’t afford to pass up” chances to use the political advertising rules for other purposes.
A legitimate campaign can be expected to have a “campaign committee, a campaign headquarters, campaign offices (particularly relevant for a statewide Senate campaign), press releases, or true campaign speeches (i.e., to the public).”
Miller was asked to demonstrate the legitimacy of his candidacy by AG Koster and Clear Channel St. Louis President/Market Manager Beth Davis. He responded, noting 14 points, none of which, argue the petitioners, signal a legitimate run for the US Senate as detailed above.
For example, Miller has a website – so do millions of other people. That does not equal a legitimate candidacy. He says he served in the military. True though that may be, it is not an indication of candidacy. Etcetera.
Neither has he filed with the Federal Election Commission, as have seven other candidates. That requirement is kicked off once the very low total of $5K has been raised or spent.
Finally, Miller is not involved in a primary, as a purported write-in candidate. The petitioners are suggesting that until primary elections are held, the general election cannot be considered to have started and want an FCC declaratory ruling on that matter.