Laura Wells was arrested in San Rafael

by Daniel Borgström

Laura Wells was arrested while attempting to attend a debate between Republican & Democrat gubernatorial candidates. The debate was held in San Rafael on October 12th, Tom Brokaw moderating. When Laura was on the steps of the hall, a private security guard recognized her as the Green Party candidate for governor.

"You know, don't you? We know you know!" a guard told her. "There's a law that a candidate for the office can't be at the debate unless they're in the debate." And Laura said, "No. There's a rule???"

The existence of this dubious law has not been confirmed, but it was zealously enforced. Laura had a ticket for the event, given to her by a supporter, but police said the tickets were non-transferable.

Private security guards handcuffed Laura and turned her over to San Rafael police who took her away in a squad car. She was cited for trespassing at a private party and ordered to appear in court on Nov. 2nd, which is election day.

This is the first time Laura has ever been arrested.

In New York and some other states, third party candidates are invited to participate in debates; in others they are excluded from participating. But banning candidates from merely attending seems truly bizarre. It's hardly the sort of thing that should happen in a country which is so diligently engaged in exporting democracy to Iraq and Afghanistan.

One might expect those ever-vigilant watchdogs of our democracy, the mass media, to be all over this thing. Front page headline news stories. Outrage expressed in editorials. Nothing less. Actually, several Bay Area newspapers did report the incident; giving it a brief article and a photo. That was it.

Some alternative news services covered the arrest. Nationwide coverage was given on "Democracy Now!" hosted by Amy Goodman and aired on the Pacifica network and affiliated stations. Unlike the corporate media, Democracy Now and Pacifica Radio are listener supported. They report things like this. They also reported that part of Laura Wells' platform is the establishment of a California state-run bank as a way to help free the state from Wall Street.

Laura Wells is a former financial and business analyst, and her proposed state bank has a precedent; it's not a new, untried concept. North Dakota has had a state bank for over 90 years, Laura points out, and is now the only state with a budget surplus and not a deficit. It's a concept that hasn't much interested politicians who are tied to the financial giants of Wall Street, nor has it gotten much coverage from either the corporate media or even from most progressive journalists, who seem mainly absorbed in following the ups and downs and proposals of the Democrats.

In previous elections Laura has run for state comptroller on the Green Party ticket. In 2002 she received over 400,000 votes. Considering the difficulties of a 3rd party candidate getting publicity from the press or getting funds or anything else, I'd say that number of votes was phenomenal.

So why wasn't Laura invited to participate in the debate? She might raise the proposal of a state bank, and other unwanted thoughts. Nevertheless, it still remains something of a mystery as to why she and other 3rd party candidates are excluded from sitting in audiences at debates. Searching websites, I found this bizarre suggestion:

"Same thing happened to Ralph Nader every time he showed up with a valid ticket at a presidential debate. Excluded candidates are not allowed to sit in the audience because the TV producers need to show audience shots, and it would be too awkward to have an excluded candidate sitting there. Their faces are essentially banned images."

Is that the way it is? Probably. But not totally. All six gubernatorial candidates were invited to participate in a debate California State University, Sacramento on October 28th. That was helpful, but far from enough to make it a level playing field.

October 2010


Laura Wells tells about her proposal for a California state bank

Laura Wells interviewed on "Democracy Now!" hosted by Amy Goodman

Laura Wells' website

Wikipedia article on Laura Wells


How the Nation’s Only State-Owned Bank Became the Envy of Wall Street by Josh Harkinson March 2009

The Bank of North Dakota: Our Only State Owned Bank by Dr Stuart Jeanne Bramhall, May 2010


Green Party candidate describes arrest at governor’s debate, by Carl Nasman at North

Statement from Laura Wells: CA Governor candidate arrested at debate

Green Party Candidate Laura Wells Arrested Outside CA Gubernatorial Debate by Ryan Van Lenning

Green Party


SF Chronicle

Marin Independent Journal

Sacramento Bee