Sorry, Deez Nuts, Left Shark and Toy Testicles. The folks over at the Federal Election Commission are not amused by your claims to be running for the presidency, and this week they announced plans to crack down on the wave of fake candidates filing paperwork with the agency. “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,” according to the FEC’s news release outlining its formal procedure. The letters will warn pranksters that there are potential penalties for making false filings with a federal agency. If they don’t respond to the FEC’s letter in 30 days, their names will be yanked from the public database on the FEC’s website, stripping them of one path to notoriety.
There’s been a rash of people claiming to run for the presidency this year. The FEC’s online database shows 1,850 filers — ranging from Bippy, the Clown and Sir Cookie Zealot to House of Cards protagonist Frank Underwood. That’s up from 419 in the 2012 election and 366 in 2008, according to the agency’s records.
One possible reason for the jump: The agency posted a new form in February 2015 that allows would-be officeholders to easily file a “statement of candidacy” online. (To be clear, filing paperwork with the FEC is not the same thing as running for president. Presidential candidates need to qualify for the ballot in individual states and meet other criteria, such as being at least 35.)