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Open Debates
APRIL 12, 2004
11:26 AM
CONTACT:  Open Debates
Chris Shaw (202) 628-9195
Open Debates Files Complaint with the IRS Against the Commission on Presidential Debates

WASHINGTON - April 12 - Open Debates has filed a complaint with the IRS in an attempt to revoke the tax status of the Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD).

"The CPD violates Section 501(c)3 of the Internal Revenue Code, which forbids such organizations from participating or intervening in political campaigns on behalf of any candidate for public office. Instead of engaging in nonpartisan voter education, the CPD executes the joint demands of the Republican and Democratic nominees concerning the presidential debates, and shields the Republican and Democratic nominees from public accountability," stated George Farah, Executive Director of Open Debates and Author of No Debate.

"The CPD is an organization that was created by the major parties, for the major parties, and is largely controlled by the major parties; the commission merely executes secret agreements drafted by the major party campaigns," said Pat Choate, Author and 1996 Reform Party Vice-Presidential candidate.

"CPD debates have diminished voter education and fostered comfortable silence on critical issues of bipartisan agreement. Citizens' Debate Commission sponsored debates will help broaden serious discussion of the issues," said Mark Clack, Deputy Director of Public Campaign.

"The little television there is about politics focuses too much on the polls and strategies of campaign insiders. And when it comes to debates -- one of the rare opportunities for citizens to get substantive information -- the CPD puts the interests of the two major political parties and its corporate sponsors before the interests of the voters. Reforms, such as those proposed by the Citizens' Debate Commission, are sorely needed," said Meredith McGehee, Executive Director of the Alliance for Better Campaigns.

"Choice and competition are vital elements of a vibrant democracy. Citizens' Debate Commission sponsored debates will help bring our nation toward this ideal," said Rob Richie, Executive Director of the Center for Voting and Democracy.

The Citizens' Debate Commission is: John B. Anderson, former U.S. Congressman; Angela "Bay" Buchanan, president of The American Cause; Veronica De La Garza, executive director of the Youth Vote Coalition; Norman Dean, executive director of Friends of the Earth; George Farah; Tom Fitton, president of Judicial Watch; Tom Gerety, executive director of the Brennan Center for Justice; Jehmu Greene, executive director of Rock the Vote; Ambassador Alan Keyes; Jeff Milchen, founder of; Larry Noble, former General Counsel of the Federal Election Commission; Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council; Chellie Pingree, president of Common Cause; Randall Robinson, author and founder of TransAfrica; Dan Stein, executive director of the Federation for American Immigration Reform; Mark Weisbrot, co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research; Paul Weyrich, chairman of the Free Congress Foundation.


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