NES Response to Fair Elections Complaint 7-24-19 WBAI

Complainant: Cerene Roberts

The complainant references an episode of the WBAI show Law and Disorder that aired on July 1, 2019 which featured an interview with WBAI listener candidate Dee Dee Halleck regarding her case against Manhattan Neighborhood Network that was heard in the United States Supreme Court. The complainant alleges that the July 1 interview violated the first campaign rule which states that:

“Air time may not be made available to some Listener Delegate candidates but not to others, in any capacity, whether as host, guest, caller, or other, whether live or recorded, including to discuss matters not directly related to station elections.

The complainant asks for Ms. Halleck to be disqualified.

Discussion: The relevant campaign rule is intended to prevent some listener candidates from receiving a disproportionate advantage in the elections because they are heard on the station’s air frequently by the voters during the election period itself. A review of the WBAI archives for July 1, 2019 for the period 9:00 to 10:00 am did feature an interview with Dee Dee Halleck regarding the Supreme Court case. The WBAI nomination period, while closed to new registrants on June 30 was extended to midnight on July 6th in order to allow potential candidates, many of whom registered on the last day, to qualify as candidates and complete the required paperwork. The programmers in question, the hosts of Law and Disorder, did not and could not have, had access to any list of WBAI listener candidates on July 1st because no such list had been published and would not be for several days. Ms. Halleck had however registered her intent to be a candidate and should have been aware of the rules that apply. Since factually the candidate paperwork deadline was extended beyond July 1 and Ms. Halleck had not completed her candidate paperwork at the time of the interview, no formal violation can be assessed, but we agree with the complainant that the “spirit” and “intent” of the rule were likely violated by the candidate and will issue a warning to Ms. Halleck that she may not appear on WBAI in any capacity again until the conclusion of the balloting period on October 15, 2019 and that any further violation may result in sanctions, up to and including, disqualification as a candidate.

RULING: The candidate appeared on-air during the extended candidate paperwork filing period from July 1 to July 6 and is hereby warned of a first strike with regard to the Fair Campaign rules. Any further violations may result in sanctions, up to and including, disqualification as a candidate.