ST. PAUL (Oct. 18, 2014) — Hamline University is hosting a gubernatorial debate in St Paul on Sunday, October 19. In a stunning show of partisan favoritism and in violation of their own policy, the University is allowing only two of the five candidates to participate. Only the Democratic and Republican candidates have been invited.
In doing so, they may also be jeopardizing their 501(c)3 nonprofit status, which specifically prohibits political favoritism. From Hamline University’s own policy:
“Candidate appearances. Universities may invite political candidates to speak at events or public forums as long as ALL candidates are provided EQUAL ACCESS and opportunities to speak.” [emphasis added]
“The ACE guidelines, as well as Hamline’s policies and procedures, are based on IRS rulings under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code and the Federal Election Campaign Act. The penalties associated with improper political activity by a college or university are quite severe, and can include loss of the institution’s tax-exempt status and state or federal lawsuits, audits, or investigations.”
Officials from the Libertarian Party of Minnesota have contacted Hamline’s President and their Communications Director organizing the debate to notify them of their obligation to host inclusive debates by inviting all five candidates. Chris Holbrook, Libertarian candidate for Governor, has been in contact as well.
The Party points out that all five gubernatorial candidates are on the ballot and are thus legitimate choices to voters. It may be equivalent to voter-fraud and a possible infringement upon freedom of speech that organizations hosting debates are prohibiting voters from hearing about all possible choices. Debates should be a tool to inform the public about political viewpoints, not to limit them. Minnesotans should have the ability to hear from all candidates and to make their own decisions, and not have those choices censored by political chicanery which offer up only the establishment candidates.
The Party’s stance is that if a candidate is ON THE BALLOT then they should be IN THE DEBATES.