(The following was originally published in The Salt Lake Tribune.)
Third-party candidates upset at being left out of televised debates announced their intention Wednesday to file formal complaints with the Federal Election Commission and county district attorneys, among other officials.
The Utah Debate Commission held its first event Tuesday, pitting Rep. Rob Bishop, R-Utah, against Democrat Donna McAleer. No third-party candidates were on the stage; they instead protested outside. And no third-party candidate will participate in the next debate, on Thursday at Southern Utah University, where Rep. Chris Stewart, R-Utah, will face Democrat Luz Robles.
The leaders of the Independent American Party and the Constitution Party believe exclusion of their candidates violates laws meant to require equal time to candidates on broadcast stations, leading to a complaint destined for the Federal Communications Commission. They anticipate that the Libertarian Party will join their complaint.