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Open Debates, National Press Building, 529 14th St. NW, Suite 1201, Washington, DC 20045

For Immediate Release
January 12, 2003

Contact: Chris Shaw (202) 628-9195

Washington -- National civic leaders from the left, right, and center of the political spectrum have come together to form the Citizens' Debate Commission. Operating with full transparency, the Citizens' Debate Commission will sponsor debates that address pressing national issues, feature innovative formats, and include the candidates the American people want to see.

“The Citizens' Debate Commission will sponsor presidential debates that put voter education first,” said former Congressman John B. Anderson.

“This is an issue of such importance to the health of our democracy that we, liberals and conservatives, are putting aside ideological differences and joining together to sponsor truly democratic debates,” said Mark Weisbrot, Co-Director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research.

The nonpartisan Citizens' Debate Commission was formed because the bipartisan Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD), which has sponsored presidential debates since 1988, fails to adequately serve voters' interests. The CPD, which was created by the Republican and Democratic parties, secretly awards control of the presidential debates to the Republican and Democratic candidates, limiting voter choice and restricting subject matters of political discourse.


“The CPD has consistently undermined our democracy by employing stilted and unrevealing debate formats,” stated Bay Buchanan, President of the American Cause.


“The CPD is a complete failure. In order to have real and robust debate, the American people deserve a new debate sponsor,” stated Open Debates' Executive Director George Farah.

The Citizens' Debate Commission members are John B. Anderson, former U.S. Congressman and Chair of Center for Voting and Democracy; 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, Executive Director of Open Debates and author of the forthcoming book No Debate ; Tom Fitton, President of Judicial Watch; Tom Gerety, Executive Director of the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law; Jehmu Greene, Executive Director of Rock the Vote; Ambassador Alan Keyes; Jeff Milchen, Executive Director of; Larry Noble, former General Counsel of the Federal Election Commission; Tony Perkins, President of the Family Research Council; Chellie Pingree, President and CEO of Common Cause; Randall Robinson, Founder of TransAfrica Forum; 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, Chair and CEO of the Free Congress Foundation.


For interviews with members of the Citizens' Debate Commission, please contact Chris Shaw at 202/628-9195.