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Florida Libertarians demand a place in the press rather than just a footnote

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Bill Wohlsifer and Adrian Wyllie are two Libertarians seeking statewide office, and both are being excluded from mainstream media coverage and political polls in their respective races. Today, Wohlsifer sent out a press release stating his concern about not being included in media coverage about the political race he is in (see below). Both candidates are legitimate and serious about seeking public office. Wohlsifer is running for Florida Attorney General against Pam Bondi and whoever wins the Democratic Primary. Wyllie is running for Governor against 27 other candidates including the much talked about Rick Scott and Charlie Crist. If either Wohlsifer or Wyllie are mentioned in the general media, it is often just a footnote with a comment like "Libertarian candidate Adrian Wyllie is also running."

Most coverage of the Florida Governor's race mentions only Rick Scott and Charlie Crist. Occasionally a piece will show up with Nan Rich running against Crist or whether or not Bill Nelson will enter the race. There are six Democrats vying to be Florida's next governor, why not talk about the others? Did Floridians know they had 12 presidential candidates to choose from when they went to the polls on November 6, 2012? Not including the write-in candidates whose names do not show on the ballot, there were 12 candidates qualified to vote and printed on the Florida ballot, yet the general press failed to inform the public as to the existence to all but two. They also have failed in their journalistic integrity by not being objective, impartial or fair in their coverage by purposefully excluding qualified candidates from the public and spoon-feeding the voting public only two candidates.

The most common argument I have heard from reporters and those in the general media is that the other candidates are not interesting to the public and if they were, they would cover them. However this is nothing more than a blatant CYA response as libertarians are perhaps the most interesting candidates of all. 2012 Libertarian Party presidential candidate Gary Johnson is one example being not only qualified as a two-term governor of a Democratic leaning state, however also being an accomplished mountain climber, climbing Mount Everest, Ironman finisher, is a self-made multi-millionaire building a construction business employing over 1,000 and he is most in line with general America on the bulk of public policy. Yet, Johnson was rarely mentioned in the general media.

June 20, 2014 is the last day to qualify for most Florida public offices up for election and we will see how many of the 27 candidates for governor make it through the qualification process. After that time, Libertarians are saying the gloves are off, and are working on a solution to be treated fairly and equally in the Florida voter's eye through the general media.

Below is the statement by Bill Wohlsifer released today:

IN AS MUCH AS I UNDERSTAND THAT THE ASSOCIATED PRESS IS ONLY CONCERNED WITH THE ALL NEWS THEY SEE FIT TO PRINT, and in as much as I respect a private enterprise’s right to invite to their annual pre-legislative session Press Planning Day the mainstream media and the Republican and Democratic candidates, exclusively, I have only one problem with this event. Sure, it is offensive to me to be told that I am not invited and not welcomed. Frankly, I am not accustomed to such blatant rejection, but do not take it personally. After all, it was my decision to run for public office and my decision not to run as a Republican or a Democrat. The fact that I am a fully vetted and approved candidate by the Libertarian Party of Florida, a 17-year member in good standing of the Florida Bar, and that I am conducting 1 of 4 active campaigns for Florida Attorney General (the other 3 candidates are invited) does not bother me. No, not at all, because I respect free market capitalism and the right for a private enterprise to set its own agenda. I really do.

Indeed, the courts agree. Even sitting U.S. Congressmen and former Governors can lawfully be excluded from debates (Dennis Kucinich, Ron Paul, Gary Johnson). Although they appear to be public forums, these are private events. As stated, I respect the rights of private enterprise and have no intention of imposing myself where I am not welcomed. I politely asked and was politely told that no third party candidates are invited to meet the press, including you, Mr. Wohlsifer. Again, I respect that decision and appreciate the AP’s courteous conversation and explanation. What bothers me is that their event is taking place at my Capitol Building. Your Capitol Building. The taxpayers’ Capitol Building and with the talented services of our taxpayer-funded Capitol Building personnel, and heat, and electricity.

Why does the AP not rent a conference room at one of the many fine downtown hotels? This could be a revenue generating event for local business proprietors such as the Doubletree or the W or Hotel Duval or the Sheraton that would also generate revenue for their staff, parking attendants and food and beverage suppliers. I’m just saying that the AP, the heavily funded Republican and Democratic candidates, and the mainstream press should not get to have it both ways: They are holding a private event on public property with no consequence for their selective exclusion of third party hard working candidates. Adrian Wyllie, Libertarian candidate for governor, and I are to pay the same qualifying fee to the Secretary of State as our major-party opposition candidates pay and are held to similar election and campaign obligations, yet we are both excluded from this segregated event; not for anything we did, say, or stand for, but because, according to AP criteria, we “have not raised enough money to demonstrate candidate viability” in the sole opinion of the Associated Press. The exclusion is highly prejudicial.

So, when you read the coverage of Florida’s gubernatorial and attorney candidates, and sitting House and Senate leaders that will be published during and after the upcoming legislative session please remember that the coverage is the result of a planning strategy set to occur on January 29, 2014, at your Capitol Building. The purposeful exclusion of fair and balanced news coverage that you will encounter in the Spring of 2014 will not be occur then, it is occurring tomorrow.

Bill Wohlsifer (LPF) candidate for Florida Attorney General 2014. Please Share. The truth needs to be told."

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