Dr. Shiva Ayyadurai, the independent candidate challenging U.S. Senator Warren in her bid for re-election, has filed a lawsuit against the University of Massachusetts system, believing they violated his First Amendment rights by excluding him from the debates.
“UMass is in violation of our Constitutional rights by favoring certain candidates and blacking out the views of others,” Ayyadurai said. “As a state university that receives federal funds, they are an arm of the government and should behave in a fair manner.”
“They have violated the First and Fourteenth Amendments of the United States Constitution as well as Massachusetts laws. It is not just my rights but yours and everyone else's rights which have been violated. People have a right to be heard and people have a right to hear everyone.”
On Oct. 30, UMass will be co-hosting one of the three Senate debates, where Warren will face Republican challenger, Rep. Geoff Diehl. Dr. Ayyadurai is the only other candidate on the ballot, and he believes that the Democratic Party and the Republican Party colluded with UMass and media outlets to keep him from participating in the debates.
“UMass wants to ensure that the two-party monopoly continues and Independents do not win elections. Debates are an important part of the election process and by shutting out the independent candidate, UMass clearly is part of the corrupt establishment which has rigged the system against the everyday American.”
As the first one to get on the ballot, Ayyadurai contacted various media outlets seeking information about the debates. He was informed that the plans would be made available only after the Sept. 4 primary. However, immediately after the primary results, news came out that Warren had already agreed to debate Diehl in three pre-arranged debates.
A UMass Representative later contacted Ayyadurai’s campaign inviting him to another debate, aside from the three already scheduled, but only on the condition that he meet a certain level of recognition in public polls. Yet, all the recent public opinion polls, i.e. MassINC Polling Group/WBUR, Suffolk University Political Research Center, and the Boston Globe, leave out Ayyadurai’s name when asking voters if they recognize a candidate.
“They (UMass and media outlets) were evasive at first but then it became clear that they had already taken a decision to keep me out in order to help Elizabeth Warren steal the election from me and were inventing reasons to keep me out.”
According to Ayyadurai, the reason for keeping him off of the debate stage is because of his views in challenging the establishment, consistently bringing up touchy subjects that threaten the status quo, and matters related to Big Pharma, Monsanto, and the Military Industrial Complex. He sees the Democrats and Republicans as two sides of the same coin, designed to control the narrative and give voters an illusion of choice.
“UMass is a hotbed of the establishment which wants to maintain status quo. This status quo includes keeping the Democrats and Republicans in power and maintaining a show of two parties opposing each other so that voters think they have a genuine choice. They also tightly control the narrative and limit it to a few topics which help maintain this fake dichotomy. Along comes an Independent candidate with fresh ideas who strays from the standard narrative of abortion and condoms, and instead speaks of really lowering the costs of healthcare, gives concrete ideas on solving the student loan crisis created by the two parties, and wants to take on behemoths like Monsanto. This has shaken up the establishment and instilled fear in them. Their immediate reaction is to use all means including corrupt means to ward off the Independent and maintain [the] status quo.”
“For them, the debate is a show that they need to put on in order to fool the people into thinking they have a choice of leaders. In reality, UMass filters out the candidates who are not already part of the establishment and there is really no choice because both Elizabeth Warren and her GOP opponent are creatures of the establishment.”
Ayyadurai believes that the president of UMass, Martin Meehan, is actively trying to keep him from debating. When asked if he thought Meehan had any role in this, he called him a politician who should be ashamed of himself.
“Meehan is a politician and is behaving like the running interference of Elizabeth Warren. Josef Stalin would have been proud of him and made him the Kommissar of Censorship. Marty Meehan's censorship of legitimate political views and going [to] great lengths to keep me out of the debate stage is a shameful chapter in the history of the United States. He should be ashamed of himself. I doubt even his family is proud of him. Even they probably know that his actions amount to corruption on the part of the establishment.”
As a response, as one of his most loyal supporters, 85-year-old Vellayappa Ayyadurai, the father of Ayyadurai, decided to occupy Warren’s district office to protest his son’s exclusion from the debate. He sat in her office for hours, and according to him received no response, “Nobody has got the courtesy to ask my name, phone number, email, nothing!” he said in a video posted on twitter. When Mr. Ayyadurai went back a second time to protest, he was kicked out.
“I left my cane, pen, eyeglasses, sunglasses, everything, I went to the bathroom, then when I came back, all my things were taken from the office and left outside, they closed the door, then I called them, they said you cannot come in, not only that, within 10-15 minutes they called the police,” Mr. Ayyadurai said.
“My father wanted me on the debate stage in the interest of fairness,” Ayyadurai said. “Warren got frightened and hid from him. She lacked courage to look him in the eye and answer him. Had she been honest and graceful, she would have said that she will not tolerate the unfairness and will debate me and would have got to know my father who at his advanced age was saying, "Give me Debate or give me Death." Instead, Elizabeth Warren ran away and hid behind her minions like Meehan who are trying to keep me away. This is why she does not deserve to be your senator.”
Ayyadurai also filed a request in federal court for a preliminary injunction to prevent the debate from happening, until the legal matter is resolved. On Oct. 3, the hearing took place. At 4:02 a.m. on the morning of that hearing, UMass suddenly sent Dr. Ayyadurai an email stating that if he fulfilled four new criteria, one of which included getting 10 percent favorability in the polls, he could debate. What's interesting is that in the 2010 U.S. Senate race, in the 2014 gubernatorial race, and in the 2018 congressional race, candidates were allowed on the debate stage who were polling less than one percent.
At the Oct. 3 hearing, the judge ruled that UMass is a state entity and part of organizing the debate. The lawyers for UMass tried to claim they were not involved in the debate. "This was clearly a dishonest claim. The judge saw through it," said Dr. Ayyadurai.
UPDATE: On Oct. 19, Dr. Ayyadurai's lawyers submitted evidence, per the judge's Oct. 3 request, that Dr. Ayyadurai had met all the criteria, including a 55-page expert report from the Chairman of the MIT Department of Statistics which showed that Dr. Ayyadurai was polling at 20 percent among registered voters, and beating Warren 41 percent to 30 percent among those voters who typically do not vote for Democrats or Republicans in midterms.
The judge, a close friend of Bill Clinton's from his Oxford days and who Clinton appointed, surprisingly ignored the evidence that Dr. Ayyadurai had fulfilled all the UMass criteria. According to law, the only reason for the State excluding a candidate from the debate stage is if that candidate is a detriment or danger to the State. "The judge's ruling, while keeping the lawsuit alive, has ruled that I am fundamentally a danger to the State. My lawyers and I have the option of taking this to the Appellate and Supreme Court, but by then it will be too late. This is how the justice systems works with the State to keep out Independents," said Dr. Ayyadurai.
Dr. Ayyadurai on the occasion of the Oct. 19 debate, did a sit in and blocked Elizabeth Warren's car as a form of civil disobedience. He was dragged away by a handful of police officers shortly afterwards. For the Oct. 21 debate in Springfield, Massachusetts, Dr. Ayyadurai and his supporters were forcibly kicked out of the New England Public Radio building were the debate was being held, although they all had tickets. The majority were blocked from coming in or kicked out once they entered the building.
"We had 40 tickets for legitimate access. Warren and Diehl campaigns colluded with the Springfield police and forcibly pushed 35 of us out of the building. Only 5 were allowed in. During the debate they yelled out, 'Let Shiva debate!' after which they were arrested."