Right to life advocate Randall Terry, who is running for President, responded to two stories RBR-TVBR ran this week (Allred and Skall), with a copy of a letter sent to TV station he bought ad time on that are airing the Super Bowl. The commercials depict “in graphic nature, an aborted fetus and or fetal parts.”
The anti-abortion ads will run during the Super Bowl in Ada, Oklahoma, Grand Junction, Colorado, Joplin, Missouri, Paducah, Kentucky, and Springfield, Missouri. Commercials will also be airing during the pre-game of the Super Bowl in Kansas City, Tulsa, Oklahoma, and St. Louis, Missouri, among others.
Here’s the letter, which threatens TV stations that choose to not air the ad, with petitioning the FCC to revoke their licenses:
Subject: From Candidate Randall Terry to FCC TV stations Broadcasting to any portion of OK and MO DMAs.
Dear Sir or Madam.
I am Randall Terry, Democrat Candidate for President of the United States. My media rep, Kathy Offerman, has purchased airtime on your station to run a campaign ad during the Super Bowl, or in a pre-game show. As a legal candidate under the definition of FCC law [Section 73.1940 [47 CFR §73.1940] we have no intention of allowing that ad purchase to be cancelled.
You are in receipt of a letter from Democrat National Committee (DNC) Executive Director Patrick Gaspard dated January 27, 2012. In that letter, Mr. Gaspard stated: “Mr. Terry is not a bona fide Democrat candidate or a representative of the Democrat National Committee.” He concluded the letter, “Mr. Terry’s claims to be a Democrat candidate for President are false. Accordingly, he should not be accorded the benefits of someone conducting a legitimate campaign for public office.” As these two statements deal with the essence of his letter, and your station’s subsequent contemplated cancellation of my ad, I will deal with them both in turn.
First, I make no claim to represent the DNC. Such representation, or lack thereof, is meaningless for the issue at hand. No one has to be a representative of the DNC to be a legally qualified candidate for federal office.
Second, I am a registered Democrat in the State of West Virginia. The fact that I changed parties is again irrelevant. (Not to mention the fact that Theodore Roosevelt, Ronald Reagan, and Winston Churchill changed parties; I follow in a long and proud tradition.)
Third, by every legal definition of the FEC and the FCC, I am a bona fide Candidate for the Office of the President of the United States.
Concerning the Federal Election Commission (FEC), we have filed – and continue to file – all required documents and financial records required by law from my campaign committee and me.
Concerning the FCC – and my right to run TV ads on an FCC licensed broadcast facility within the 45-day window of a primary – I am a legally qualified candidate. The law states [Section 73.1940 [47 CFR §73.1940] in the germane sections:
(a) A legally qualified candidate for public office is any person who: (1) Has publicly announced his or her intention to run for nomination or office;
(2) Is qualified under the applicable local, State or Federal law to hold the office for which he or she is a candidate; and
(3) Has met the qualifications set forth in either paragraph (b), (c), (d), or (e) of this section.
– I have publicly announced my intention to run for office;
– I am qualified under the applicable local, State or Federal law to hold the office for which I am a candidate;
– I have met the qualifications set forth in paragraph (b), which states:
(b) A person seeking election to any public office including that of President or Vice President of the United States, or nomination for any public office except that of President or Vice President, by means of a primary, general or special election, shall be considered a legally qualified candidate if, in addition to meeting the criteria set forth in paragraph (a) of this section, that person:
(1) Has qualified for a place on the ballot;
I have qualified for a place on the ballot in both Missouri and Oklahoma.
For Missouri, see: http://www.sos.mo.gov/candidatesOnWeb/DisplayCandidatesPlacementPPP2012.asp
For Oklahoma, see: http://www.ok.gov/elections/support/ppp_filing.html
In short, I am, by every definition, a legally qualified candidate for President, who has qualified for a place on the ballot. And your station, therefore, is legally obligated by your FCC license to run my campaign ad without censorship, editing, etc.
I now turn to Mr. Gaspard’s closing statement: “Mr. Terry’s claims to be a Democrat candidate for President are false. Accordingly, he should not be accorded the benefits of someone conducting a legitimate campaign for public office.”
This, of course, is the crux of the matter. Mr. Gaspard is unethically suggesting a path for you to defy FCC law; he knows it, and you know it.
Or put another way, his letter seeks to give you “legal cover” or “plausible confusion” in order that you break the law, and refuse to run my campaign ad.
But should you willingly embrace such deceit, you will find that his cover has holes in it, and that you alone will bear the responsibility for “willful or repeated failure to allow reasonable access to or to permit purchase of reasonable amounts of time for the use of a broadcasting station, other than a non-commercial educational broadcast station, by a legally qualified candidate for Federal elective office on behalf of his candidacy.” (Section 312 [47 U.S.C. §312] Administrative sanctions.(a) (7) )
In case I am unclear on what I am saying, let me be more specific.
The administrative sanctions delineated in 312 [47 U.S.C. §312] define your “willful” and “repeated” refusal to run my campaign ads as follows:
(1) The term “willful”, when used with reference to the commission or omission of any act, means the conscious and deliberate commission or omission of such act, irrespective of any intent to violate any provision of this Act or any rule or regulation of the Commission authorized by this Act or by a treaty ratified by the United States. [Emphasis added]
(2) The term “repeated”, when used with reference to the commission or omission of any act, means the commission or omission of such act more than once or, if such commission or omission is continuous, for more than one day.
Your station will not be able to hide behind the spurious and deceitful letter written by Mr. Gaspard, stating in effect: “We did not intend to violate the law! We did not intend to violate a provision of FCC regulations!”
If you deny me my rights as a federal candidate, you will be committing a willful violation of FCC law, and subject to FCC sanctions.
Have your legal counsel read Mr. Gaspard’s letter again. He is not citing the law; he is trying to seduce you to break the law. His letter has NO BEARING on the FCC law and the facts at hand regarding my candidacy, and your legal duty to run the ad of a legally qualified federal candidate.
Nowhere in the FCC code are the wishes or desires of any political party given any role regarding federal candidates, or their right to run TV ads according to law. If you try and introduce or hide behind the specious argument that the DNC should decide what ads you air, or who is a candidate under the law, you alone will bear the consequences.
Be advised and forewarned: should you refuse to run my ad, in the light of all the facts outlined in this letter (and the attempted deceit and strong-arming of the DNC) we will request that the FCC revoke your broadcast license, and grant it to others more worthy than yourself, who take their civic duty regarding free elections with more honor, respect, and gravity than you do.
Section 312 [47 U.S.C. §312] Administrative sanctions of the FCC commission states “(a) The Commission may revoke any station license or construction permit – (7) for willful or repeated failure to allow reasonable access to or to permit purchase of reasonable amounts of time for the use of a broadcasting station, other than a non-commercial educational broadcast station, by a legally qualified candidate for Federal elective office on behalf of his candidacy.” In CBS, Inc. v. FCC, the Supreme Court held that §312(a)(7) guarantees a “legally qualified candidate” “reasonable access” and that even one failure to abide by this law can result in revocation of the station’s license. We will pursue that remedy.
On a political note, we both know that the DNC and Obama team are terrified of the political and electoral impact of my campaign ad. They fear the loss of votes of Catholic Democrats (of which I am one) who are appalled by the President’s policies. That is why they are calling on you to do their political bidding.
But is it really worth risking your license to hinder free elections and do the bidding of the DNC? Do you really think the DNC/Obama team will take the heat and the blame when your license is revoked because you chose to willfully violate FCC law?
Do you think President Obama’s Press Secretary, or the Press Secretary of the DNC will hold a press conference and say: “We colluded with these stations to violate federal law.”? Or, “We advised them in a legal brief that they were not obligated to run Mr. Terry’s campaign ads.”? No. They will throw you under the bus; they will wash their hands of you faster than a nurse dealing with leprosy. Look again at Mr. Gaspard’s letter. It was written in a way that they could deny any wrongdoing; you will be hung out to dry on your own.
Your station will be hearing from an Attorney this afternoon. If your station declares it will not run my ad, we will file for immediate relief from the FCC.
Therefore starting today, Tuesday, January 31, 2012, should your station delay in any way to run my campaign ad for “more than one day” as delineated in Section 312 [47 U.S.C. §312], we will request that your broadcast license be revoked.
I hope this letter clarifies our position, and that we can proceed with our TV ad purchase(s) as ordered, in accordance with the law.
Democrat Candidate for President