Four days ago, I told you why I think the Commission on Presidential Debates is breaking the law and endangering its tax-exempt status by overtly supporting only the two major parties in the American political system (until further notice, I refuse to type the names of the parties).
What I didn't tell you was that on the Monday before I wrote the article, BBH New York dropped it's sponsorship of the CPD. That left the "non-partisan" commission with 9 of its original 10 sponsors. Since the CPD is a 501(c)(3) organization, they rely on sponsorships to be able to promote the debates. So, while BBH was not their biggest sponsor (that would most likely be Anheuser-Busch), they are nevertheless, 10% of the companies putting their reputations on the line.
Then, at almost the same time that my article was being published, and later picked up by the Libertarian Party, CPD sponsor YWCA ended their agreement to fund the CPD. According to a poster at the Independent Political Report, "the YWCA has writen (sic) an apology letter and agrees the debates are not fair in a country were (sic) every one is equal." So, just two days after the announcement that only two candidates would be allowed to debate, the CPD was down two sponsors.
Finally on Friday, multi-billion dollar company Philips Electronics became the third sponsor in less than one week to withdraw their sponsorship from the CPD. Head of Corporate Communications, Philips North America issued the following statement via form letter to numerous recipients:
"The Commission on Presidential Debates is a nonprofit, 501(c) (3) corporation dedicated to providing a platform to the U.S. public – in the form of presidential and vice-presidential debates – which serves to inform voters on a variety of issues. Philips, a company with roots in the U.S spanning more than eight decades, supports the goals and ideals of having a more engaged and informed electorate. Philips also has a long and proud heritage of being non-partisan in the many countries it serves around the world. While the Commission on Presidential Debates is a non-partisan organization, their work may appear to support bi-partisan politics. We respect all points of view and, as a result, want to ensure that Philips doesn't provide even the slightest appearance of supporting partisan politics. As such, no company funds have been or will be used to support the Commission on Presidential Debates.
A diligent group of people who meet at the Facebook group, "Help the Commission on Presidential Debates do its job" have been coordinating massive letter writing campaigns to the sponsors of the CPD. Besides their efforts, Americans across this great nation have been calling, posting on Facebook, and emailing sponsors and the CPD alike to make known our disdain with the obviously intentional exclusion of Gary Johnson and Jill Stein from the CPD events as evidenced by full voicemail and email inboxes.
Not everyone is jumping on board with these three sponsors, however. Southwest Airlines recently replied to calls to influence the debate format by sending out this letter:
"It is disheartening to learn that you have come to question your future patronage with Southwest Airlines after learning of our sponsorship with the Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD) during the upcoming election cycle.
Southwest Airlines’ involvement with the upcoming presidential debates is not aimed at promoting or endorsing any political agenda or candidate. Essentially, our sponsorship consists of us chartering planes between the debates to accommodate the debate staff’s travel needs. Our sponsorship does not include travel for any of the candidates or their staff.
After careful review of the CPD’s request for Southwest Airlines involvement in the upcoming debates, our Senior Leaders felt that the core values of Southwest Airlines aligned with the CPD’s mission of providing American Citizens the opportunity to make informed decisions. We hope that the information provided will clarify some of the questions you had regarding our sponsorship with the CPD. We would LUV to call you one of our patrons and Southwest friends should your plans call for travel between the cities we serve."
It really should come as no surprise to anyone that Southwest would not remove themselves. They sold their souls to the duopoly back in 2001 with the airline bailout just after 9/11. Don't be fooled though. It wasn't a terrorist attack that caused the airline industry to flounder. It needed bailing out long before 9/11 and long before the American taxpayer came to the rescue of the auto and banking industries.
So, who are the remaining six sponsors that we have yet to hear from? Fortunately the good folks at IPR have you covered in that regard as well. Pick up your pencil and start writing folks. In the words of President Obama, "Yes, we can!"
Crowell & Moring LLP
The Howard G. Buffet Foundation
Sheldon S. Cohen, Esq.
International Bottled Water Association
The Kovler Fund