Election Supervisor Orders Gary Null To Stop Violating Fair Campaign Rule

A complaint was filed with the election supervisor regarding Gary Null's violation of several election rules. The following is the original complaint followed by National Election Supervisor Terrill Bouricius's ruling:

January 1, 2004

Ms. Joy Williams, WBAI Election Supervisor
Mr. Terry Bouricius, National Elections Supervisor

Dear Ms. Williams and Mr. Bouricius
I am writing to complain about the continued violation of several elections rules by WBAI unpaid staff member Gary Null, as follows:

1. Today (Jan. 1, 2004), on Mr. Null’s noon-to-1 pm “Natural Living” program on WBAI, he permitted the endorsement of the candidiacy of Paul DeRienzo by a caller. I can provide an audio recording of that part of the show for your benefit. This occurred shortly after Mr. Null gave a long monologue with his opinions on current station and network issues. Mr. Null did not warn callers either before or after the incident that endorsement of candidates during call-ins is specifically prohibited by election rules, namely: “Station management or staff (paid or unpaid) may not use or permit the use of airtime to campaign for or against any candidate.”

2. On the December 5, 2003 edition of Mr. Null’s program, Mr. Null thanked his executive producer Paul DeRienzo on air for his help in preparing that day’s show. This is in violation of your earlier warning to Mr. Null (according to an email account you provided) that Mr. Null “could not mention Paul's name on the air until after the election was over.”

3. Pacifica election rules state:
“All members and programmers that maintain a website utilizing Pacifica or station logos or call letters and/or references to their own Pacifica or station programming that could be mistaken for an official web site, are subject to and shall be bound by these rules: a. Endorsements of candidates on such web sites are not permitted. Any such Website reference to a specific candidate or slate of candidates is not permitted, either explicitly or via hyperlink to another web-page.” (emphasis added)
Mr. Null’s website, http://www.garynull.com, is clearly identified with WBAI and his “Natural Living” program on his home page and many pages inside the site, and Mr. Null frequently announces it on the air. Mr. Null’s home page (http://www.garynull.com/Index.aspx -- pdf file of the page attached) has the following link: “THE WBAI ELECTIONS Don't just talk about what's wrong, start changing things!” This link goes to an internal page(http://www.garynull.com/issues/wbai/index.aspx) which has another link which says:

”YOUR VOTE CAN CHANGE THINGS Don't just say you care about WBAI, VOTE!” This in turn takes you to another internal page (http://www.garynull.com/issues/wbai/Elections/Vote.aspx) with a paragraph that says:

“For more information on candidates that we feel bring multi-dimensional qualities, insights and expertise to these very important positions, click here.” This link in turn takes the reader to http://www.lookingforward.com/wbai/, which contains identical language, namely: “The following candidates bring multi-dimensional qualities, insights and expertise to these very important positions.” This is followed by the names -- hyperlinked to statements -- of the following four candidates:
• Paul DeRienzo
• Robert Dean
• Luanne Pennesi
•   Harry Lichtenstein

This page is administered by Charles (charles@SMARTTRAC.COM), located at 328 Old Town Road East Setauket, NY 11733, US. The registrant of the lookingforward.com site is also SmartTrac Computer Systems, Inc. Charles of SmartTrac.com is also the administrator of www.garynull.com. This information is publicly available from directNIC http://www.directnic.com/whois/?query=lookingforward.com. You can check this by typing in the domain names and clicking the WHOIS option, which allows you to see the names of websites’ owners and administrators.

I have attached pdf files from the garynull.com and lookingforward.com site to illustrate the situation as of today (January 1).

I understand that Mr. Bouricius had responded to a previous complaint against Mr. Null for including near-identical language DIRECTLY on his own website, by directing him to remove that language immediately. (If you would like, I can send you screen shots of Mr. Null’s site as of October 14, 2003, at which time the direct endorsement was still present.) The only change since that time is that Mr. Null has moved the illegal endorsement from his own website to one that is hyperlinked to his site, and administered by one of his personnel. This is a flagrant violation of the election rules. I also understand that Ms. Williams told candidate Ray Laforest several weeks ago that she would investigate the hyperlink, but Mr. Laforest has not received any further information from Ms. Williams.

Please direct Mr. Null immediately and in writing to remove any and all links to the offending site, and institute disciplinary procedures for all of these violations against him and against the candidates who have benefited from his endorsement (several of whom have stated in their online statements that they are employees or close associates of Mr. Null’s). Despite your warnings to Mr. Null, he has persisted in defying the rules. Among other remedies, I believe he should be required to provide equal time on his shows for all 52 listener candidates to speak in a forum moderated by Ms. Williams.

The campaign rules clearly state: “If any provision is violated, the local and national election supervisors will choose a remedy, up to and including disqualifying candidates or suspending offending staff (paid or unpaid) from the air for the remainder of the election period.” After Mr. Null’s repeated rule violations, it would be grossly unfair not to institute disciplinary measures against him. Please inform me how you intend to address this matter and the result of your discussions with Mr. Null

Sincerely,
John Riley

Terry Bouricius wrote:

I ruled that he had to stop any reference to his site, or take down the
endorsements. I got a call from the GaryNull.com webmistress who told me
the candidate endorsements are off the site.

Terry Bouricius
Pacifica National Elections Supervisor
elections@pacifica.org
(802) 864-8382
Fax (443) 659-2399
56 Booth St.
Burlington, VT 05401
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