News Release

The Reform Party: A Hollow Structure Casting Big Shadow for Nader Campaign


The Reform Party — which gave its presidential nomination to Ross Perot in 1996 and Patrick Buchanan in 2000 — has endorsed Ralph Nader for president this year. That endorsement seems to provide Reform Party ballot lines to Nader in half a dozen states. And in Michigan, the Washington Post reports today, the Nader campaign is saying it hopes to be on the Reform Party line, although “a dispute over who runs the party’s state chapter — and which candidate it supports — has thrown that into question.”

The national chairman of the Reform Party, Shawn O’Hara, “voted for Bush in 2000 and says if Nader were to tilt the election one way or another, he would prefer if Bush is re-elected,” the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported last week (July 12). The newspaper quoted O’Hara as saying: “I’m doing everything I can to make sure John Kerry never gets around the White House.”

While quoting a statement from O’Hara that the Reform Party has “moved to the center,” the New York Times (July 1) reported that O’Hara conceded “he once favored the execution of doctors and nurses who performed abortions but now embraced abortion rights as provided by federal law, as Mr. Nader does.” Interviews are available with the following authors of books about third parties in the United States:

Maisel, the director of the Goldfarb Center for Public Affairs and Civic Engagement at Colby College, is co-author of “Two Parties or More? The American Party System.” He said today: “The Reform Party is a shell of its former self, propped up mainly by a few individuals who seem bent on using it for their own political purposes, including in this case helping George Bush beat John Kerry. Nader’s acceptance of the Reform Party nod for the presidency is striking evidence of the lengths to which he will go to get on the ballot. I can think of no case in recent American history in which a candidate has gone so far from his basic principles, from his political roots, in order to get a spot on the ballot…. His acceptance of the Reform Party endorsement is particularly odd in this light. How can Nader possibly be comfortable in the party that ran Pat Buchanan for president a short four years ago?”

Sifry, a senior analyst with Public Campaign, is author of the new book “Is That a Politician in Your Pocket?” as well as “Spoiling for a Fight: Third-Party Politics in America.” He said today: “The Reform Party, which is a shadow of the organization that Ross Perot founded and financed back in late 1995, still has ballot lines in seven states, including battlegrounds like Florida. With the Green Party having rejected Nader’s appeal for its endorsement, the Reform Party looms even larger in importance to Nader’s ballot drive. This is all just one more example of Nader’s willingness to accept help from those who apparently oppose his goals.”

Sifry added: “Take Nader’s number one priority: reversing the tidal wave of special interest money that is swamping our democracy. Just 0.22 percent of all Americans currently make a campaign contribution of over $200, and that tiny group — which gives 80 percent of the money from individuals — is dominated by the super-wealthy. Their interests are far from those of average working families, and they get all sorts of special breaks from Washington in exchange for their contributions. In his pursuit of the presidency, Nader is accepting help from those who would perpetuate this elite money system: Republican Party and religious right activists in states like Oregon, Arizona, Michigan and Florida; big donors who predominantly support Republicans; and now, we discover, a Reform Party whose national chairman prefers Bush to Kerry. As admirable as Nader’s career has been, this is hardly a sensible way to reduce the power of big money in politics.”
For more information, contact the Institute for Public Accuracy, (202) 347-0020.