The thought of a candidate called Deez Nuts running against Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump may sound hilarious, but the Obama administration doesn’t find it funny at all, especially with the overage of prank candidates who have similarly goofy or even offensive names.
Last year, a 15-year-old Iowa teenager became a viral sensation when, as a joke candidate called Deez Nuts, he had polled at 9 percent, far behind Republican and Democrat primary frontrunners Trump and Clinton respectively. But with the number of joke candidates having filed paperwork with the Federal Election Commission rising, the agency has decided to put an end to it once and for all. In fact, those caught filing patently false information may end up getting fined by the government as a result.
“The Commission has authorized staff to send verification letters to filers listing fictional characters, obscene language, sexual references, celebrities (where there is no indication that the named celebrity submitted the filing), animals or similarly implausible entries as the name or contact information of the candidate or committee,” wrote the FEC in a news release this week. The agency added that these letters will caution joke candidates that they may be fined for filing (obviously) false information with a government agency, and that anyone who doesn’t respond to the letters in 30 days will be removed from its public database.
Indeed, there are a lot of false candidates on the FEC’s online database aside from Deez Nuts, who is, in reality, an Iowa youth named Brady Olson. The list includes fictional politician Frank Underwood of House of Cards fame, Tom Hanks’ character Forrest Gump from the film of the same name, “Joe Biden from Trap Queen Avenue,” and other strange and/or outright offensive names that couldn’t belong to a real person. All in all, there are 1,850 people listed as presidential candidates on the FEC’s records, which is up from 419 in 2012 and 366 in 2008.
The FEC believes this may be because it had posted a more convenient online form in February 2015 for the filing of statements of candidacy. Still, candidates would only be considered legitimate if they qualify for the ballot in their states of residence, and be at least 35 at the time of filing.