RFK Jr. plans to file a lawsuit against Nevada over ballot access

Robert F. Kennedy Jr. plans to file a lawsuit against the Nevada Secretary of State's office, CBS News has learned, nearly two months after learning that his campaign would likely have to resume signature gathering in the Silver State.

Beginning of March, announced the campaign that it had collected more than 15,000 signatures in Nevada, but before Kennedy had named a running mate, which is required under state law to start the petition process for independent candidates.

At the end of March the The Nevada Secretary of State has acknowledged this, however, that an aide incorrectly informed the campaign that it did not need to name a vice presidential pick for the petition. However, in a statement provided to CBS News on Thursday, Nevada Secretary of State Cisco Aguilar said his office is prepared to meet Kennedy in court as his campaign received guidance clarifying the statutes.

“Nevada has a rich history of independent and third-party candidates. Each of these candidates has been able to gain access to the ballot box by following the law. We look forward to seeing Mr. Kennedy's team in court, Aguilar said.

With more than a month left to collect new signatures, the campaign will likely run out of time to start over in Nevada if the campaign files in court and loses the case.

In a settlement letter dated May 23 written by Paul Rossi, lead attorney for ballot access for the Kennedy campaign, he warned the Secretary of State that Kennedy was prepared to file a lawsuit Friday, unless the office agrees to the campaign. Rossi offered to drop all charges and avoid legal fees in exchange for the office validating the signatures.

Rossi suggested that Nicole Shanahan's name be splashed in newspapers across the state to cover the omission of RFK Jr.'s running mate. correct in the petition. Additionally, anyone who signed Kennedy's petition can withdraw their support if they wish, Rossi offered.

“We are happy to discuss and iron out all details to reach an acceptable resolution of this unique factual circumstance,” Rossi wrote.

A similar case occurred in 2008, when the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority petitioned the Secretary of State to put an education and infrastructure funding initiative to the vote. The Secretary of State determined that the petition was invalid because the form violated state guidelines, and that decision was later upheld by the Nevada Supreme Court.

Kennedy wasn't the only independent candidate who learned he would have to start over in Nevada. Independent presidential candidate Cornel West submitted a new petition to the Secretary of State in April, the same day he appointed his running mate, Melina Abdullah, a California-based professor of Pan-African studies, and leader of the California chapter of Black Lives Matter revealed. , said the State Secretary.

“In early March, the Secretary of State's office sent guidance to all independent presidential campaigns that had filed petitions for ballot access,” Aguilar said in his statement to CBS News. “These guidelines emphasized the legal requirements necessary for petitions to be valid. The guidelines were sent well before the signature submission deadline, which has still not passed. While some campaigns took the opportunity to resubmit petitions to our office, others did not. .”

Before the settlement letter, the secretary of state told CBS News that it had not heard from the campaign since March, when it first sent a memo with information about ballot access.

This is coming too a day after Kennedy's campaign filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission accusing CNN, President Biden, former President Donald Trump and their campaigns of violating federal election law for not inviting him to participate in the June 27 presidential debate.

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