Monday, September 8, 2008

Advocacy group wants presidential debate commission contract open to public

The non-profit is calling for the Commission on Presidential Debates to make its contract with the McCain and Obama campaigns open to the public.

"It is vital that the public has full access to information in a sound democracy," said George Farah, executive director of Open Debates, in a news release. "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 sacred political forums."

The organization, which posted the 2004 agreement between the Bush and Kerry campaigns on its site
, targets the CPD often for, in its words, "the stultification of format, the exclusion of popular candidates, and the avoidance of pressing national issues." The group really wants Libertarian candidate Bob Barr in the debates, and wants the CPD out of all things debate-related.

An interesting aside: Open Debates lists among its supporters U.S. English, a group co-founded by retired eye surgeon Dr. John H. Tanton. Name sound familiar? It should, because he also co-founded ProEnglish, the group that funded Metro Councilman Eric Crafton's push to make English the official language of Nashville. (Tanton resigned from U.S. English in the late 1980s to create ProEnglish after a controversial U.S. English memo leaked.) As reported by my colleague Michael Cass, Tanton has ties to several organizations labeled as hate groups by the Southern Poverty Law Center, a Montgomery, Ala-based civil rights group.

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