News Release

Group Calls for Making Presidential Debates Contract Public


Executive director of the group Open Debates, Farah said today: “Sen. Lindsay Graham of the McCain campaign and Rep. Rahm Emanuel of the Obama campaign have negotiated a detailed contract that dictates the terms of the 2008 presidential debates, including who can participate and the structure of the formats. The Commission on Presidential Debates has agreed to implement the debate contract.

“The Commission on Presidential Debates has refused to release the debate contract to the public. It is vital that the public has full access to information in a sound democracy. Unfortunately, the Commission on Presidential Debates is more concerned with the partisan interests of the two candidates than the democratic interests of the public, and it has denied voters access to critical information about our most important political forums.

“The Commission on Presidential Debates was created by and for the Republican and Democratic Parties. In 1986, the Republican and Democratic National Committees ratified an agreement ‘to take over the presidential debates’ from the League of Women Voters. Fifteen months later, the Republican Party’s then-chair Frank Fahrenkopf and the Democratic Party’s then-chair Paul Kirk incorporated the Commission on Presidential Debates. Fahrenkopf and Kirk still co-chair the Commission on Presidential Debates, and every four years, it implements and conceals contracts jointly drafted by the Republican and Democratic nominees.

“During the last presidential election cycle, after pressure from Open Debates, the Commission on Presidential Debates released the 32-page 2004 debate contract.”

Farah wrote the book No Debate.

For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167