The Libertarian Party of Ohio filed a complaint against organizers of the gubernatorial debates in Marietta and Cleveland, saying they arbitrarily left out third party candidates.
The LPO filed a 29-page complaint with the Ohio Elections Commission, alleging that Marietta College and the City Club of Cleveland planned the debates in conjunction with the campaigns of Republican Mike DeWine and Democrat Richard Cordray and failed to have objective criteria to determine which candidates would be invited to participate.
Hosting the debates without including third party candidates violates Ohio’s ban on corporate contributions, the complaint alleges.
On the statewide ballot candidates for governor include Cordray, DeWine, Libertarian Travis Irvine and Green Party candidate Constance Gadell-Newton.
Irvine and Gadell-Newton were not included in any of the three gubernatorial debates.
In September, the LPO filed a 23-page complaint with the Ohio Elections Commission over being left out of the debate in Dayton. The complaint alleged that hosting the debate amounted to an illegal campaign contribution to DeWine and Cordray from the University of Dayton.
The University of Dayton has said that it had set a 10-percent polling requirement for candidates to participate in the debate.
“The biggest difference with this latest filing is that neither Marietta College nor the City Club of Cleveland even pretended to employ a polling formula. The latter openly admits its debate was between only the major-party candidates,” said Mark Brown, attorney for the Libertarian Party of Ohio.
The complaint notes that the City Club of Cleveland offered to host a minor-party forum, which the LPO rejected as an unacceptable solution but Gadell-Newton accepted.