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Ruling in Response to the ACE mailer

 

(by National Election Supervisor, Nov. 8, 2007)

The slate mailer sent to WBAI listener sponsors by the faction calling itself ACE (Alliance for Community Elections) has violated rules established by the Pacifica Foundations National Elections Supervisor. The same rules were followed by other organizations sending slate mailers.

Not only was the specific ban on fundraising ignored, the mailer actually marketed merchandise in a very unfortunate fashion, commercializing the use of the membership list of our noncommercial radio station and our nonprofit foundation. In addition, the mailer made improper and misleading statements, including an implication that the National Elections Supervisor had been partisan in enforcing the rules on using the mailing list. ACE's statement that the mailing was made possible by threatening court action wrongly suggests that the Justice and Unity Coalition that attempted to illegally block access to the mailing list. In fact, the ACE slate's threat of a lawsuit was against the Pacifica Foundation itself when the National Elections Supervisor attempted to make them follow the same rules that were in force for all slate mailers.

Pacifica was forced to delay the mailing of ballots for more than a week while the ACE slate redesigned its mailer to conform with the rule against harvesting addresses belonging to the Pacifica Foundation. ACE was expressly prohibited from repeating the previous year slate mailer that featured an official-looking survey with the members names and addresses imprinted. The new mailer was allowed to have a return form giving the member the option of filling in their own name and address.

Due to case law precedent prohibiting inspection of private mailers to the membership under California non-profit law, Pacifica and its election supervisors were unaware of the violations contained in the ACE slate mailer until members received it and registered complaints.

One of the points of contention is a false statement that Amy Goodmans contract expires at the end of the year when a new five-year contract had been announced more than a month before the mailer was sent. The mailer suggests that the Justice and Unity coalition would not keep Democracy Now on the air when in reality, the JUC-affiliated Directors on the Pacifica National Board had supported the new contract with Amy Goodman to continue broadcasting DEMOCRACY NOW. This assertion may meet the two requirements of libel law (1) telling a known lie and (2) doing so with the intent of diminishing the standing of individuals in their business or community.

Proof of libel is a matter for resolution in the judicial system. However, the infractions against the rules of mailing and of the Fair Campaign Provisions require action by the National Elections Supervisor.

Therefore, it is ordered that:

(1) On air announcements be broadcast on WBAI at least eight (8) times per day through November 16, and at different times of the day to reach the breadth and diversity of the listenership, refuting any association between WBAI and the mailer marketing flashlights;

(2) On air announcements be broadcast on WBAI at least eight (8) times per day through November 16, and at different times of the day to reach the breadth and diversity of the listenership, explaining the truth about the Amy Goodman contract; and

(3) All revenue from the ACE mailer must be turned over to WBAI.

Casey Peters
National Elections Supervisor
Pacifica Foundation