OWS Congressional Candidate George Martinez Fails to File with FEC for TV Debates

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As the fight for Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez's seat rages on before the June 26th democratic primary, three of the four candidates-Councilman Erik Martin Dilan, Velazquez and political newcomer Dan O'Connor-were slated to debate on NY1's Inside City Hall last night. The debate was ultimately postponed, due to the unexpected death of Velazquez's mother, but the remaining candidate OWS protester, Hip-Hop artist and local District Leader George Martinez wasn't allowed to make it onto the small screen at all. According to an OWS newsletter, Martinez was barred from participating in the debate because he hasn't raised more than $5,000. Martinez's has adopted a novel DIY campaign technique drawing upon crowd sourcing and donation of labor and expertise as opposed to dollars, a campaign style he has dubbed "Bum Rush the Vote." In the campaign's eyes, low funding is the whole point. "To us, this represents a victory for people-powered, grassroots politics, not a lack of 'viability!' " argued the campaign in a statement over the weekend. But NY1 looks to funding and expenditures as evidence of a campaign's seriousness. The OWS newsletter disclosed a statement from an NY1 senior political producer Michael Nitzky explaining Martinez's exclusion from the debates, "Every candidate who has been invited to appear in our debates has filed with the FEC and shown that they have fundraised and spent money as a candidate. [Martinez's] campaign has not done so." NY1 political director and executive producer Bob Hardt concurred. The Village Voice reported that he said to Martinez's angered supporters, "Several candidates who are on the ballot in several of the races have filed with the Federal Election Commission but shown no evidence of any campaign activity and have not been invited to participate in our debates. Can you provide any evidence that George Martinez has been running an actual campaign by getting donations from voters in the district and spending the money on basic campaign expenses? If so, we'd reconsider our decision."

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