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Open Debates, National Press Building, 529 14th St. NW, Suite 1201, Washington, DC 20045
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, former presidential candidate, and current chair of the Center for Voting and Democracy

Angela Bay Buchanan
President of the The American Cause and former U.S Treasurer

Veronica De La Garza
Executive director of the Youth Vote Coalition

Norman Dean
Executive director of Friends of the Earth and chair of CERES

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 and Brennan Center Professor of the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law and former President of Amherst College

Jehmu Green
Executive director of Rock the Vote

Alan Keyes
Former GOP presidential candidate, former Ambassador to the United Nations, and chairman of the Declaration Foundation

Jeff Milchen
Founder and Executive Director of

Larry Noble
Executive director of the Center for Responsive Politics and former general counsel of the Federal Election Commission

Tony Perkins
President of the Family Research Council and a former Louisiana state representative

Chellie Pingree
President and CEO of Common Cause and former Maine Senate Majority leader

Randall Robinson
Author and 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
Chairman and CEO of the Free Congress Foundation and founding president of the Heritage Foundation

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