Nader sues presidential debate commission for barring him from Boston event
By The Associated Press
|Green Party presidential candidate Ralph Nader looks out
of his vehicle at the presidential debate site at Washington University in St.
Louis yesterday. Nader was denied access to the area hours after he sued the
commission organizing the debates because he was excluded from the first debate
ST. LOUIS Ralph Nader was barred from the presidential debate
here yesterday, hours after he sued the commission organizing the debates
because he was excluded from the first one.
"Mark my words, this is the debate commission's last hurrah," Nader
said after police turned him away from Washington University where Al Gore and
George W. Bush appeared for the third and final debate. "Its power will be
Nader, the longtime consumer advocate and Green Party candidate, was
invited to do an interview with campus television station WUTV and had a
credential from the station to speak with two reporters at their tent outside
the field house where the debate took place.
But the university's police chief said the credential was invalid and
Nader was turned away, even though two of his campaign staffers were allowed
inside with the same type of pass.
Nader left the campus and his campaign aides said he planned to go to
his hotel to watch the debate.
Earlier, Nader filed a lawsuit in Boston the site of the first
presidential debate Oct. 3. He was denied access to the event even though he
had been given a ticket by a local college student, and claimed his rights were
That event prompted the lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Boston
against the Commission on Presidential Debates, the commission's two
co-chairmen, a commission "security consultant" and a state police
Nader called the lawsuit the first step in dismantling the
"By the time I'm finished with the debate commission, its ranking in
political opinion polls will be below the ranking of used car dealers," Nader
Nader has already sued the
Federal Election Commission, contending that allowing corporate sponsorship
of the debates violates the federal law barring companies from contributing to
candidates. A federal appeals court has heard that case but has yet to
In the latest lawsuit, Nader said the defendants used "the threat of
arrest, intimidation and coercion to exclude him," and deprived him of his
rights to free speech, freedom of association and equal protection of the
Nader claimed he was "treated differently from all others" because of
his political positions, his Green Party affiliation, and his criticism of the
commission, the Democratic and Republican parties and their candidates. He is
seeking compensatory and punitive damages.
Nader, excluded by the commission from debating because he hadn't
garnered 15% in polling, wasn't even allowed to watch from a side auditorium at
the University of Massachusetts-Boston campus.
As Nader got off a shuttle bus that drove him from a subway station to
the Boston debate site, a commission security officer, flanked by police
officers, told him that despite the ticket he would not be admitted because he
was "not an invited guest in possession of that ticket."
Nader said before the Boston debate that he had been assured by a
debate official that all tickets were transferable.
John Scardino, a spokesman for the commission, denied that
"We have a very clear process about the ticketing procedures and the
ticketing procedures are not transferable," Scardino said, adding he believes
Nader tried to gain access to an area he was not entitled to enter. Scardino
declined to comment further on the lawsuit.
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