Independent presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. filed a complaint alleging that CNN “colluded” with the campaigns of Joe Biden and Donald Trump to bar him from debates on June 27 and September 10, 2024.

Kennedy’s campaign has requested that the Federal Election Commission (FEC) act before June 20, 2024, to address how the opposing campaigns allegedly broke federal law. In a letter to the FEC, one of Kennedy’s lawyers, Lorenzo Holloway, wrote, “CNN is making prohibited corporate contributions to both campaigns, and the Biden committee and the Trump committee have accepted these prohibited corporate contributions.”

For an individual to participate in a CNN debate, there are two requirements they must meet. The first is that the candidate must achieve at least 15% support across four national polls that align with CNN’s polling standards. The next is that the candidate must appear on enough ballots to earn 270 electoral votes if won.

Kennedy claims that his campaign has filed paperwork that, if approved, would earn him 171 votes. He is currently on enough ballots to earn just 89 electoral votes.

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A CNN representative stated, “The mere application for ballot access does not guarantee that he will appear on the ballot in any state.”

Kennedy’s campaign claimed that the qualifying thresholds needed to be more objective. Additionally, the campaign took issue with the fact that Trump and Biden would be nominated by their respective conventions following the debate. Though both prospective candidates have exceeded the criteria, both will be certified for the ballot once formally nominated by their parties.

Kennedy had intended to use these debates to bolster his chances of election, anticipating that his appearance would add to the legitimacy of his campaign. The independent claims he is being held to a higher standard than his competition, though he has yet to achieve the polling thresholds.

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