More action to come next week!
September 20, 2000
Commission on Presidential Debates Occupied And
Investigated by the Open Debate Society
WASHINGTON, DC - Early this morning, members of the Open Debate Society occupied the offices of Wagner Communications and Brewer Consulting Group, the only known address of the Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD).
Their aim was to put a face to the name of the CPD, a stealthy private corporation controlled by the Republican and Democratic parties and funded by Anheuser-Busch, 3 Com, and U.S. Airways. Members of the Society came to mark the offices of Wagner and Brewer as the location of the CPD and posted a sign correctly identifying the CPD as the Corporate Puppets’ Debate.
Today’s actions are just the beginning of the open-debate movement. Rallies are taking place every Thursday in September at 1200 New Hampshire Ave at 12:00 noon in Washington, D.C. (the CPD’s mailing address). Tomorrow the New York City offices of Anheuser-Busch at 350 Park Avenue between 51st & 52nd from 4:30 to 7:30 PM will be targeted by Ralph Nader supporters. By the time the debates kick off in Boston, the event will be met with thousands of protesters.
While its official-sounding name makes the CPD look like a federal agency, it is actually a private corporation with no storefront, office or physical location. The CPD’s website and literature gives the Wagner and Brewer firms’ address as its own. After their office occupation, the Society did a follow-up call to Carl Wagner at Wagner/Brewer. He told them that Wagner Communications was sold over a year ago and that the group no longer exists.
Of course, that morning during the occupation, he and his lackey had also tried to convince the Society members that they would not find the CPD within the Wagner/Brewer offices. That ruse was up when they tripped over a box of pamphlets, “Inside Debates,” produced by the CPD.
During their occupation of the Wagner/Brewer office, the Society demanded that the CPD return the debates to the voters by opening the debates to third party candidates and removing the corporations that have hijacked democracy from the American people. Members of the Society, carrying a boom-box playing Beethoven, unfurled a giant American flag and postered the office, all the time engaging the two male employees present (the senior of which they believe to be Mr. Wagner) in a debate over the debates.
Their slogans included “Open Debate Society Demands Citizen Voice Not Corporate Choice” and “60.9% of Likely Voters Want Nader to Debate.” They also highlighted the influence of Anheuser-Busch on the CPD: “CPD: Drunk with Power and Turning our Democracy into a Frat Party,” “The People Are Sobering Up and Taking Back the Debates,” “You’ve got to be Drunk to let Budweiser Steal the Debates,” and “RNC and DNC Decide Who Gets Debate? What? Are you Drunk?”
Campaign finance reform advocate Granny D also made an appearance at the CPD’s virtual location in the Wagner/Brewer offices. She told of her walk across the country for campaign finance reform and demanded open debates.
The senior employee, after calling the police, sat down in his office and answered some of the most poignant arguments raised by the ODS with misleading information. After being confronted with the commission’s private sponsors and procedures, he mistakenly referred to the groups as a “public”. Similarly, after being questioned about the bipartisan nature of the organization, he defined the commission as “nonpartisan.”
Adam Eidinger, an Open Debate Society member who took part in this morning’s occupation, explained his concern over the way the debates are being run by stating: “We’re calling the CPD an insult to American values of democracy, fair elections, and the right to be informed. The CPD is an illegitimate body, compromised by the fact that it’s controlled by the Democratic and Republican Parties, who have a political interest in excluding third party candidates, and funded by large corporations like Anheuser-Busch and U.S. Airways.”