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Gary Johnson sues FEC for $750k

Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson's campaign has filed a federal lawsuit against the Federal Elections Commission, claiming the agency is unlawfully holding back public funds.

The FEC wouldn't comment, citing the suit that was filed Monday in a federal court in California.

Johnson claims that, as a minor-party candidate, he's entitled to a set amount of funds that are supposed to be distributed by the commission. The amount is set forth in a complicated federal formula that awards public funds to parties based on their candidates' prior performances in other elections.

The federal law suggests in one place that a candidate such as Johnson "is eligible to receive pre-election payments" only if his party "received at least 5% but less than 25% of the total popular vote" in the prior election. But Johnson's attorney, Paul Rolf Jensen said that 5 percent threshold doesn't apply.

Total owed: $747,115.34, Johnson's suit says.

"Unless Plaintiffs receive their pre-election entitlement before the general election, it is of little use, because the election will have already taken place," Johnson's suit reads.

A good chunk of that money would be spent in Florida on campaign ads, said Roger Stone, a Florida political advisor to Johnson. Stone, a long-time GOP operative, said he suspects Republicans, threatened that Johnson would siphon votes from Romney, is working behind the scenes to block the flow of funds.

Johnson, a former Republican New Mexico governor, was locked out of most of the GOP primary debates this winter. He became a Libertarian shortly afterward and secured his new party's nomination in May.

The FEC has awarded Johnson's campaign $303,751.20 as of Aug. 8, according to a press release. The Democratic and Republican parties each received $18,248,300 for their conventions. The two major party candidates are entitled to as much as $92,241,400, Johnson's suit says.

The presidential public funding program is financed through the $3 check-off that appears on individual income tax returns, according to the FEC.

Then there's the matter or irony. Libertarians generally oppose taxes and entitlements, yet they're filing suit to get public money to fund a political campaign.

Download Johnson Suit


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David Cox

If the public funding is completely voluntary then I don't think it falls under a tax or entitlement. In that case government is not redistributing property, it is distributing from a willingly-donated fund. You can certainly argue that is not government's role, but I'm tired of this idea that because libertarians want small and principled government, we have to step onto your field and play your rigged game with both arms tied behind our backs.

Josh McCullough

Johnson is simply playing the hand he was dealt. He needs every advantage he can get and this includes obtaining public funds. Gary Johnson 2012!


I agree with David Cox - the fund is voluntary, this isn't a tax, it's a distribution of funds voluntarily submitted for the precise purpose of helping candidates campaign without lobbyist money. Not that the program is working very well, but I know every time I checked that box I hoped that it would make a difference someday. I actually stopped checking it when I found out what's really going on.

I commend Johnson - he is putting up a fight not just for his campaign but for all third parties in the future.

John G

i dont check the box, but think it should go to the candidates. I wish all the candidates were capped in their spending. this article cause me to google gary johnson. He seems like a guy most Americans would vote for. Why isnt he in the debates?

Horatio Smith

John G,

He isn't in the debates because the Commission on Presidential Debates is run by a committee composed entirely of Republicans and Democrats, and they have set rules for entering the debates that are designed precisely to exclude any other party from participating.

It's a total sham, and I encourage you to sign the petition to get Gary Johnson and Jill Stein included in the debates.



Of course, given the set up, it's unlikely that even signing the petition will change things. It's not like the commission doesn't know millions are looking for an alternative to the D-R stranglehold on politics. So if, as is likely, Gary isn't in the debates, you can at least voice a protest credibly by casting your vote for Gary. Unless you are in a "swing state," and their aren't many, that choice won't even affect the outcome. Even in a "swing state," any rational person knows that their vote won't decide the election, which is decided by the months of prior politicking and how that swings thousands of votes. Essentially, any thinking person knows that they can vote for Gary secure in the knowledge that it's long-term impact is far more important than trying to place a bet on the Romney-Obama horserace.


Gary Johnson is the right man for the Job,The reason I sy this is Based ON HIS Record in the STATE OF New Mexico
A he created conditions which promoted business people to wanrt to come to his state and set up shop.
B unemployment he brought down to 4% while the nation in general was at 8% or higher.
C he vetoed 750 Bills more then all the other state GOV combined.
D he got reelected for a second with a higher Margin of win then when first elected.
E the people in his loved him and by the way Dems out numbered 2:1 and Gary was able to still get things done in spite of the odds.
F Mr. Johnson is HONEST and down to earth.
G he is for our liberties and was awarded 23 Liberty Bells the Highest that may be awarded.
H He is not beholding to the Lobby Corporations as are the crooks in CONGRESS who do not Represent us.
I people do the I side with.org test you may be more for gary then you think.
Good luck Gary Johnson
Stephen Schweter

John Balzer

Gary Johnson has achieved the 5%+ required and deserves to receive the funds. It is outrageous that he needs to spend money on legal just to get what is coming to him. It is more of the underhanded tactics of the GOP who has been looking up every obscure law and regulation they can find to surpress Gary Johnson. It will backfire on the GOP because Gary Johnson's popularity is growing day by day.


I'm with you Gary!!


Everything you wanted to know about Gary Johnson: http://ow.ly/dDO1P


"He opposes polluted air, yet he hypocritically and ironically BREATHES!" For shame, how evil, duh, fail...

just a dude

There's no irony. The $3 contribution is voluntary, not a tax, and libertarianism has never meant you don't sue people when they break the rules -- quite the opposite, in fact.

Libertarians have nothing against donations or volunteerism or handouts -- only against taking money by force from people to do so.


The FEC also consists of only duopoly representatives - 3 each appointed by president and approved by the Senate.

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