Sometimes, I get asked how hard it is to be a third party guy, especially around election time. The answer, at least over the six campaigns I have waged in the last thirteen years, has not changed all that much since May 2004, when I launched my first bid for public office- pretty damn hard.
Trying to convince people to not only quit choosing the lesser of two evils, but to quit considering there are just those two evils to pick from is hard enough, then there is convincing the media to pay you any kind of attention (and then hoping it is serious attention, at the least), and for a lot of Libertarian/third party/independent candidates, it is the paperwork climb that can leave them on the sidelines come election day. Gathering signatures, weird filing deadlines, the flexibility of county clerks, there are several variables that can come into play.
So how aggravating is it when the powers that be in the political duopoly skirt the rules or flat do whatever they want? Pretty damn aggravating, and not just in that it should be just as aggravating to the voters as it is to the candidates.
It was with all the above in mind as I read about the complaints filed with the Federal Election Commission (FEC) against U.S. Congressmen Luke Messer (R-6th) and Todd Rokita (R-4th) by the American Democracy Legal Fund (ADLF), contending the congressmen are violating federal election law by illegally campaigning for the U.S. Senate.
The complaints center around the race next year to replace U.S. Senator Joe Donnelly, a race that both Messer and Rokita have focused a good amount of attention on, despite neither man officially declaring for the race as of yet. The ADLF, in their complaint, contend that Messer and Rokita have each raised far more than the $5,000 allowable before requiring a registration of a campaign, in addition to publicly discussing their respective campaigns.
Messer, specifically, issued a press release that included a list of “Individuals Supporting Messer for United States Senate,” and his deputy campaign manager said “we look forward to welcoming additional members to the team who are committed to supporting Luke Messer for the United States Senate.”
The complaint also alleges that the FEC sent Rokita a letter in March, giving him thirty-five days to either declare he is not a candidate or file a Statement of Candidacy. Neither has happened, but Rokita has continued to not only talk about his candidacy, but fundraise, as well.
The Messer campaign, through a spokesman, predictably said they have no idea what the hell the ADLF is talking about, and have received no notices from the FEC. The response from the Rokita camp is slightly more distressing. Campaign manager Tim Edison stated that “these clowns have been shopping this nonsense for weeks. Todd has made no final decision on running for Senate. He has consistently said he is considering it but is not currently a candidate. People still have freedom of speech in this country and criticizing Donnelly’s record of rubber stamping things like Obama’s failed stimulus, ObamaCare, the Iran deal, taxpayer funded abortion and Obama’s gun grabs don’t make someone a Senate candidate.”
The idea that the Messer campaign doesn’t know what is going on is laughable, to say the least. When you are publicly naming supporters, and thanking people in advance for supporting you, specifically for an office you haven’t declared for yet, then really the only thing left is declaring for the damn office.
As for Rokita, this is shameful and embarrassing behavior from a man that was the Secretary of State, the chief election officer, of Indiana for eight years. I’m not saying there aren’t differences between the election laws of Indiana and the federal government, but if anyone should know the rules, it should damn well be the guy that was in charge of some of those election rules.
If this is “nonsense,” as Tim Edison considers it, then let’s see this letter the FEC sent you. Todd Rokita has freedom of speech, certainly, but apparently that speech has treaded so close to the line of candidacy the FEC wants definitive action from Rokita to define it as free speech versus campaign stumping. Last time I checked, the FEC was split right down the middle, in terms of (mainstream) ideology, so this can’t even be pawned off as a partisan squabble or attempt for payback.
Bottom line, gentlemen. Put up or shut up. You are in, or you are out. There is no halfway point, and it is organizations like the Federal Election Commission that make sure the line isn’t getting scuffed by the tap dancing by men like Luke Messer and Todd Rokita.
To view the complaints:
Complaint against Messer
Complaint against Rokita
Information for this commentary came from Election Complaint filed against Messer, Rokita, by Abdul-Hakim Shabazz, on IndyPolitics.org
Like a lot of people in Indiana, I watched with mild curiosity as Gov. Holcomb signed a law into effect in April that legalized CBD (cannabidiol) oil, a non-psychoactive form of cannabis with a low or negligible amount of THC for use in treating epilepsy. This not only ended a seven-year debate on the issue, but also gave Indiana its very first medical marijuana law. My first thought probably matched up with a lot of people in Indiana- “it’s about time!” My second thought had something to do with how much better the outlook for the state was without Mike Pence as Governor, no idea on how much that matched the opinions of the rest of my fellow Hoosiers, but I know I was not alone in that sentiment.
Now, for the predictable part of the process. While the CBD law went into effect on July 1, Hoosiers are still swinging in the wind as to their ability to legally obtain and use the oil. While the bill set up a state registry for Hoosiers to obtain the oil, it’s simply not ready (or even exists) yet. A spokesman for the Indiana Department of Health said the department is still developing the registry, and expects it to be ready in February.
But, of course. If this bill I were writing about was about trying to hinder gas stations and supermarkets from selling alcohol, the bill would complete, even if probably half-assed, and ready to go, come hell or high water. If this was a bill that threw another log on the fire of tax and fee increases we saw in July, we would not be having this conversation. The day our state government isn’t ready to go on a tax or fee increase will be the day Bobby Knight returns to coach Indiana basketball on a volunteer basis.
This boils down to the disingenuous nature of our part-time legislature. I haven’t heard any excuses as to why this process is being delayed, not that I would even seriously take them at face value, but I can only imagine what they are.
“It’s a complicated process.” No, it actually is not. The idea that this bill is being delayed is nothing more than hubris on the part of the state legislature. It creates the impression that our elected officials in Indiana are fighting to the mat to bring CBD oil to the people of Indiana, when it was their apparent inattention to the issue once the bill was signed into law that is the real culprit.
That inattention means very little to the state legislature, however. The mostly negative attention they will receive over not being ready to go on day one will equally mean as little. And as they are sitting around, doing whatever it is they are doing, it is the same situation post-CBD bill as it was before. Patients in need of a legitimate and scientifically proven treatment will have to keep looking to places like Colorado to meet their needs.
And that’s just fine, apparently, with our state legislature. Whatever CBD oil sales they will not be receiving tax revenue from, they’ll just add or increase another tax to make up the difference. And you can rest assured that bill will be ready to go some July 1 in the future.
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