Jan 18, 2024 - Politics & Policy

No Labels alleges criminal conspiracy against 2024 presidential effort

Former Sen. Joe Lieberman. Photo: Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

No Labels, the nonpartisan group preparing to run a third-party presidential ticket, has asked the Department of Justice to investigate whether Democratic and Republican strategists are engaged in an "unlawful conspiracy to subvert Americans' voting rights," the group announced today.

Why it matters: No Labels isn't going away and is prepared to go on offense.

  • The organization, which has come under intense criticism from centrist Democrats and Never Trump Republicans, is opening up a new legal front to make its broader political point that voters deserve better a better alternative to a Biden-Trump rematch.
  • "All we are doing is offering a choice," said Ryan Clancy, the chief strategists for No Labels.
  • "There is a clear and coordinated effort, that we have reported to the Department of Justice, to undermine people's choices in this election."

Between the lines: Officials with the group acknowledge that they cannot compel the Justice Department to look into any of the activities or public statements from their critics, like Matt Bennett from Third Way or Rick Wilson from the Lincoln Project.

  • But they are alleging that there's a fundamental distinction between political criticism of candidates, which is allowed, and working to prevent a political party from gaining ballot access.
  • "These groups are using intimidation to keep groups off the ballot," said former North Carolina Republican Governor Pat McCrory, a No Labels co-chair.
  • "This is not just an attack on a candidate, but on the right of the American people and our democracy."

The big picture: Since last spring, No Labels has been making moves to get ballot access in all 50 states to run a bipartisan ticket.

  • Those efforts have been met with alarm by operatives in both parties, but the White House has largely stayed out of the fight.
  • Critics are that a No Labels bid can result in only one outcome: The restoration of former President Trump to the White House.
  • In addition to the media interviews and negative tweets, there have been billboards driving around Georgetown, questioning the financial motives of No Labels CEO Nancy Jacobson.

No Labels claims that efforts like that are not protected by the First Amendment because they amount to voter intimidation.

The other side: "No Labels is a dark money group that is so consumed with its own quest for power and relevancy that it is willing to risk electing Trump, despite their own acknowledgment that he is a dangerous ideologue," the Lincoln Project said in a statement.

  • "And like Trump, they want to weaponize the DOJ to get to attack their opponents for protected political speech."

What we are watching: No Labels canceled plans for its convention in Dallas, but has not announced how it plans to select its ticket. The group has also not definitively said that it will field a ticket.

  • But with Trump's victory in Iowa and Biden cruising to the Democratic nomination, the group seems likely to move forward with their plans.

The intrigue: Former Sen. Joe Lieberman (D-Conn.) heaped praise on former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, saying "Gov. Haley deserves serious consideration."

  • "We are talking to a lot of people in both parties," he said. "None of them have said no. And none of them have said yes."
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