WBEC Debate Moderator’s Plan to Block Discussion of Campaign Finance is ‘Unacceptable’, Shein says

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

WBEC Debate Moderator’s Plan to Block Discussion of Campaign Finance is ‘Unacceptable’, Shein says

Democrat calls on WBEC management to clarify that no subject is off-limits in a Congressional debate

GREAT BARRINGTON, MA – Democratic Congressional candidate Bill Shein (MA-1) issued the following statement regarding tomorrow night’s radio debate:

This morning, the moderator of tomorrow night’s WBEC First Congressional District radio debate, Larry Kratka, told the Berkshire Eagle that a candidate’s source of campaign contributions will be off-limits as a subject for discussion:

“If the discussion turns to topics such as a candidate’s sources of campaign contributions, Kratka said, ‘I’m going to stop it. That’s not what we’re here to do.’” (Berkshire Eagle, 8/29/12: http://tinyurl.com/d8xbrhd)

This is an outrageous and unprecedented ground rule in a debate among candidates for the United States Congress.

Some relevant facts:

Another candidate, Rep. Richard Neal, is spending substantial campaign funds on radio ads on WBEC and its affiliated stations across the Berkshires.

Over the last week, WBEC aired continuous on-air promotions for the debate across its various stations that said I was a Green-Rainbow Party candidate for Congress. This confuses Berkshire County voters into thinking they don’t have an opportunity to vote for me in the crucial Democratic primary on Thursday, Sept. 6., but instead can only vote for me in the general election in November. Because there are no other candidates on the ballot in November, the Sept. 6 primary will decide who will represent the new First District in Congress.

WBEC’s press release announcing the debate misidentified me as a member of the Green-Rainbow Party.

This week our campaign tried without success to get ad rates from WBEC for radio ads we are considering airing on its stations. Repeated phone calls have not been returned, and promises to forward rates via e-mail have not been met. While I’m not an expert on the economics of the radio business, I’m fairly certain that radio stations want paying advertisers.

It’s simply outrageous and unacceptable that WBEC – a recipient of significant advertising dollars from Rep. Neal – would make the source of a candidate’s campaign donations off-limits in Thursday’s debate. This is precisely the problem I’ve made central in this campaign: Corporate money and power is corrupting our democracy, and that includes its effect on the journalism we need for a healthy, robust discussion of how to fix what’s broken in America.

I look forward to WBEC management clarifying immediately that no subject in a discussion among candidates for high public office is off limits.

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