Larry Elder Files FEC Complaint Against RNC for Biased Debate Standards and Illegal In-Kind Donations – Potential Fines Could Exceed $100 Million

Photo: Gage Skidmore

Larry Elder, the conservative radio host and political commentator, has officially filed a complaint against the Republican National Committee (RNC) with the Federal Election Commission (FEC). The complaint alleges that the RNC has unequally applied debate standards and made illegal in-kind donations. If found to be true, the total fines for these violations could exceed $100 million.

Earlier this week, Elder, along with other candidates, like Perry Johnson and Miami Mayor Francis Suarez, failed to meet the RNC’s criteria for participation.

Frustrated by what he perceives as a rigged system, Elder has threatened to sue the RNC and Fox, to halt the debate, unless he is accepted onto the stage by 2:00 p.m., last Wednesday. He would also file a complaint with the Federal Elections Commission (FEC).

“I intend to sue the RNC to halt Wednesday’s presidential debate,” Elder wrote on X (formerly Twitter).

“I said from the beginning that it appeared the rules of the game were rigged, little did we know just how rigged it is. For some reason, the establishment leaders at the RNC are afraid of having my voice on the debate stage. Just as I had to fight to successfully be on the ballot in the California recall election, I will fight to be on that debate stage because I fully met all of the requirements to do so,” he added.

The RNC committee, according to Elder’s campaign, is rejecting the Rasmussen poll he included in his package as evidence of his qualifications because the poll is allegedly “affiliated” with Trump.

Elder said, “The RNC contacts me and says I can’t use Rasmussen because it is, “affiliated” with the Trump campaign. I didn’t know that. It’s not affiliated with my campaign.”

“Rasmussen says Trump did not pay for a poll, did not even suggest a poll, and that they have no business not using Rasmussen to be one of the polls that Elder submits. Also, after we found out they weren’t going to accept Rasmussen, we submitted another poll where I’m over 1%. We didn’t submit it until after the deadline because we didn’t know that Rasmussen was going to be rejected. And the poll didn’t publish its results until after the deadline, but they finished their polling before the deadline.”

In an X post, Elder said en route to Milwaukee, “We’re filing an emergency injunction to get me up there. This is absolutely BS.”

The GOP presidential candidate’s campaign team was banned by the RNC on Wednesday’s debate.

“Not only did they ban Trump campaign staffers from attending the debate, but they BANNED MY ENTIRE CAMPAIGN from being on the grounds,” Elder wrote. “Even though we did EXACTLY what they said we needed to qualify, they REJECTED us and said we couldn’t even plead our case. That’s why we’re SUING the RNC!”

On Friday, Elder officially filed an FEC complaint against RNC.

“I have officially filed a complaint against the RNC with the Federal Election Commission for unequally applying debate standards and making illegal in-kind donations. Total fines for these violations could be over $100 MILLION,” Elder wrote.

From the filing:


Based on the foregoing, the RNC attempted to circumvent the Act and Commission regulations to pick Debate participants for their own ends. Additionally, the RNC failed to follow its own debate guidelines selectively enforcing and defining how these rules were applied. The RNC made no attempt to hide the fact that participant qualification was their sole purview. The RNC set the participation criteria, entirely directed the qualification process, and ultimately put its Chairwoman on the phone to deliver the news that it was denying Elder the opportunity to participate. Instead, of ensuring adherence to preestablished objective criteria, the RNC read new terms into the criteria, adding a post-hoc definition of “national poll” to mean a poll of “every single state.”

This, even though the RNC did state, with meticulous specificity that unique donors had to come from 20 states or territories. Moreover, as the RNC applied its criteria, it to shift its interpretations to reject each new demonstration Elder put forward that he had in fact qualified, thus favoring the other eight participating candidates over Elder. In effect the RNC constantly moved the “goal posts” on certain candidates. As a result, the RNC failed to comply with their own debate requirements.

The Act, Commission regulations and guidance materials offer no safe harbor to party committees to host a debate without resulting in a contribution to the participants. So, if the costs to stage the debate exceeded permissible limits when allocated among the eight participants, the RNC made excessive contributions to the participating candidates. In short, the RNC have openly flouted the rules Congress and the Commission set up to ensure the public has access to information about the candidates seeking their votes. The RNC applied subjectivity in applying so-called objective criteria which violates the commission regulations. The RNC staged a debate that resulted in contributions to every single participant it favored over Elder.


Based on the above, the RNC made excessive contributions to the participating candidates by itself staging the debate, violating 52 USC section 30116. Additionally, it failed to follow its own debate rules therefore violating the Federal Elections Commissions regulations on Presidential Debates. Therefore, this would violate federal law prohibiting excessive in-kind contributions and we request the FEC investigate whether the RNC made an illegal in-kind contribution to the candidates they arbitrarily allowed to participate in the debate. Ultimately, if the RNC is found to have violated federal law we request the FEC to hold the RNC accountable.

Read the full complaint below:

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Jim Hᴏft is the founder and editor of The Gateway Pundit, one of the top conservative news outlets in America. Jim was awarded the Reed Irvine Accuracy in Media Award in 2013 and is the proud recipient of the Breitbart Award for Excellence in Online Journalism from the Americans for Prosperity Foundation in May 2016.

You can email Jim Hᴏft here, and read more of Jim Hᴏft's articles here.


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