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Former IRS chief left out of GOP debates, files FEC complaint

Mark Everson served as Internal Revenue Service commissioner from 2003 to 2007. Before that appointment by George W. Bush, he served in the Reagan Administration, as well as headed two Indiana state agencies, the Department of Administration and Department of Workforce Development.

Everson also was the first Republican this year to announce that he wanted to be his party's nominee to run for president in 2016. He filed his paperwork with the Federal Election Commission (FEC) on March 10, 13 days before Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas tossed his hat into the ring.

Mark Everson FB prez campaign photo croppedMark Everson for president banner

Everson also is the only candidate not participating in either the main debate tonight on Fox News featuring the 10 GOP presidential hopefuls who have polled the highest or the lead-in event for the remaining seekers of the White House.

He's not happy about being left out. In fact, he filed a complaint with the FEC on Monday, Aug. 3, arguing that Fox News has unfairly excluded him from participation in the forum that will precede tonight's top 10 candidate debate. 

Illegal exclusion argued: Everson's complaint, which details his political credentials and highlights his campaign activities, is based on two points in Title 11 of the Code of Federal Regulations.

The first point stipulates that the host of a debate should not "structure the debates to promote or advance one candidate over another." However, notes the complaint, the changing of how participants would be selected indicates that the news outlet "revert[ed] to a 'soft' approach giving Fox News executives flexibility to fill the empty podiums at the forum with candidates of their choice."

The second point states that "staging organization(s) must use pre-established objective criteria to determine which candidates may participate in a debate." Fox News originally said candidates had to attain 1 percent in the polls to join the second-tier debate, notes the complaint, but the cable TV channel eliminated that rule on July 27, leaving no objective criteria for that debate.

Looking to join pre-debate forum: Everson is asking the FEC to compel Fox to add him to the undercard debate. 

"No one has more experience on the issues facing this country than I do," Everson  told Politico "It's an intervention in the political process by Fox."

"I'm the 18th person in a 17-person field; adding one person [to the stage] isn't going to kill them," Everson said. "No one gives [former Virginia Gov. Jim] Gilmore or [former New York Gov. George] Pataki a snowball's chance, but they're included out of respect for the jobs they've had."

Legal, political and election experts say Everson's chances of getting help from the FEC are slim. But long odds are what his presidential run is all about, so who knows.

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