Libertarian Senate Candidate files FEC complaint against O’Rourke and CNN for $10M over town hall

Dallas Morning News

Libertarian Neal Dikeman filed an FEC complaint against Beto O’Rourke and CNN for $10 million, saying the network's town hall on Thursday violates campaign contribution laws.

The complaint filed Monday with the Federal Election Commission argues because Sen. Ted Cruz is not taking part, and O’Rourke is the sole participant, CNN cannot claim the event as a debate. Also, he said the hourlong format with O'Rourke is not typical news coverage given to other candidates. Dikeman said the single candidate town hall is an in-kind donation, which is a prohibited campaign contribution.     

Dikeman wrote CNN a letter on Oct. 11 requesting to participate in the event but has not heard back from the network. The $10 million included in the complaint is what Dikeman estimated the one-hour slot on CNN would cost. If the FEC found this to be an in-kind donation to the O'Rourke campaign, he hopes the congressman would pay CNN back.  

Erin Chlopak, senior legal counsel of campaign finance for the Campaign Legal Center, said the lack of members on the FEC makes it hard to see how this complaint can go through. The FEC is normally made up of six commissioners, with no more than three from either political party. However, the commission only has four members, with two seats open.

"You would need a unanimous vote right now," Chlopak said. "This doesn't strike me as something that would make it past the first stage."

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