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Open Debates

March 8, 2004

Contact: Chris Shaw (202) 628-9195

Over fifty civic organizations advocate the Citizens' Debate Commission as presidential debate sponsor of the 2004 general election debates. These groups reflect a wide range of political beliefs and causes -- from protecting the environment, to improving democracy, to combating judicial activism -- but all want to improve the current state of the presidential debates.

“Numerous civic organizations have joined together because they want the presidential debates to address a wide range of issues that reflect the diversity of their members -- the American people,” said George Farah, Executive Director of Open Debates (, a non-partisan organization which helped form the Citizens' Debate Commission.

“Issues of critical importance to Americans are being ignored in the presidential debates,” said Bay Buchanan, president of The American Cause.

“We need debates that will answer the questions our members want to ask the candidates,” said Medea Benjamin, co-founder of Global Exchange.

The nonpartisan Citizens' Debate Commission – itself comprised of 17 national civic leaders from the left, center and right of the political spectrum – aims to replace the bi-partisan, corporate-funded Commission on Presidential Debates. The Citizens' Debate Commission will operate with full transparency and sponsor debates that address pressing national issues, feature innovative formats, and include the candidates the American people want to see.

The following civic organizations support the Citizens' Debate Commission serving as sponsor of the 2004 presidential debates: 20/20 Vision, Accuracy In Media, Alliance for Better Campaigns, The American Cause, Appleseed Electoral Reform Project, Ballot Access News, Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law, Center for Food Safety, Center for Rural Strategies, Center for Study of Responsive Law, Center for Voting and Democracy, Citizens for Participation in Political Action, Citizen Works, Common Cause, Commonwealth Coalition, Declaration Foundation, Democracy Matters, Democracy South, Demos, Earth Island Institute, Ella Baker Center for Human Rights, Fairness and Accuracy In Reporting, Fannie Lou Hamer Project, Federation for American Immigration Reform, Free Congress Foundation, Free Press, Friends of the Earth, Fund for Constitutional Government, Global Exchange, GRACE Public Fund, Grassroots Unity, Greenpeace, Independent Progressive Politics Network, Infact, Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, Judicial Watch, League of Rural Voters, MassVOTE, Midwest Democracy Center, National Coalition Against Legalized Gambling, National Coalition for the Homeless, National Priorities Project, National Voting Rights Institute, The National Youth & Student Peace Coalition, National Youth Advocacy Coalition, Native Forest Council, New Road Map Foundation, Ohio Citizen Action, Public Campaign, Rainforest Action Network,, RenewAmerica, Rock the Vote, Student Environmental Action Coalition, Texans for Public Justice, Tikkun, US English, The Voting Rights Project of the Institute for Southern Studies, Youth Vote Coalition.