Comment: Commission on Presidential Debates Apologizes to Ralph Nader

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Commission on Presidential Debates Apologizes to Ralph Nader

News Release - Tuesday, April 16, 2002

Commission on Presidential Debates Settles Dispute,
Apologizes to Ralph Nader ... for Removing Him From UMASS Campus During First Presidential Debate, 2002.

For Immediate Release April 16, 2002.
Subject: Ralph Nader (202) 387-8030

Washington, D.C. - On the eve of trial in federal district court in Boston, Janet Brown, the executive director of the Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD), and Paul Kirk and Frank Fahrenkopf, the CPD's Democratic and Republican co-chairs, have sent a letter of apology to Ralph Nader and made a monetary payment to his attorneys in order to settle the case Nader filed against them for the events on October 3, 2000, the night of the first presidential debate. The Commission's security consultant during the first debate has also sent a letter of apology and is also paying a portion of Nader's attorneys' fees.

On the night of the first debate, Nader had a valid ticket to an auxiliary viewing room and an interview with Fox News, but he was met at the university campus by the CPD's security consultant and state police and forced to leave the event under threat of arrest. The CPD had instructed the consultant that Mr. Nader could not attend the debate, but Nader was attempting to attend a separate viewing event that was sponsored by the University of Massachusetts, not the CPD presidential debate. Others allowed on campus without any ticket were invited to attend the university event. Nader promptly sued the CPD on October 17, 2000.

Reacting to the letters of apology, Nader said, "This expression of contrition was what I asked for in a letter to the Commission soon after the expulsion on October 3, 2000, and this is what the Commission finally agreed to, however delayed. After our victory, they will think thrice before doing this again to any ticketed third-party candidates in the future." Nader has repeatedly accused the CPD of being a deplorable, exclusionary tool of the two-party duopoly, performing an antidemocratic screening function in our system, and forcing excluded candidates to the sidelines in media attention and public appraisal."

The Commission on Presidential Debates was formed in 1987 to replace the non-partisan League of Women Voters, which included independent candidate John Anderson in the first 1980 presidential debate and prohibited the major party candidates from selecting the debate panelists in 1984. Frank Fahrenkopf, then chairman of the Republican National Committee and now the leading lobbyist for the gambling industry, and Paul Kirk, then chairman of the Democratic National Committee and now a lobbyist for the pharmaceutical industry, created The Commission on Presidential Debates. ...

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