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Interest Groups and the First Presidential Debate
ed. note: These are mostly from Democratic leaning groups; didn't find any from Republican aligned groups.  If you see any please email action08 @  gmail.

National Institute for Civil Discourse
Sept. 27, 2016

National Institute for Civil Discourse Releases Civility Study of First Presidential Debate

Research supports the need for NICD’s recently-released set of Debate Standards

Washington, DC—The National Institute for Civil Discourse (NICD) today released a civility report on the first Presidential Debate of the 2016 election, concluding that both candidates, Donald J. Trump in particular, fell short on civility. In coordination with Robert Boatright, NICD Research Director and Professor of Political Science at Clark University, and Timothy Shaffer, NICD Research Associate and Assistant Professor of Communication Studies at Kansas State University, students from Clark University, Kansas State University, San Diego Mesa Community College, and Assumption College coded the debate using a questionnaire designed to measure instances where the candidates and debate moderator behaved in an uncivil fashion.

In the questionnaire, respondents were asked to identify uncivil acts such as direct insults, or a refusal to answer the moderator’s questions. The respondents were also asked to identify civil behaviors, such as a willingness to take responsibility for past errors, or to denounce uncivil acts taken by others. Questionnaire respondents had little trouble identifying instances where the candidates insulted each other. They also found many instances where the candidates called each other out for past uncivil statements and behavior.

Findings include:

·       Most respondents found Hillary Clinton to be the more civil of the two candidates.

·       Approximately 78 percent of respondents reported instances where Donald Trump failed to respond to the questions posed by the moderator, but only 31 percent said the same of Clinton.

·       Eighty-seven percent of respondents reported that Clinton was willing to take responsibility for past errors, but less than 15 percent said that Trump was willing to do the same.

·       More than 80 percent of respondents identified instances where Trump insulted individuals
other than Clinton, but fewer than 20 percent felt that Clinton insulted anyone other than Trump.

These large differences remain when respondents’ party affiliations are taken into account.

“The research is clear: this campaign is one of the most uncivil in recent history and the first debate continues to degrade our political discourse. Last night’s debate, no matter your political view, showed just how important it is for this country to revive civility,” said Dr. Carolyn J. Lukensmeyer, Executive Director of the National Institute for Civil Discourse. “We owe it to ourselves to listen, consider, and find a path forward with our fellow Americans. That’s democracy.”

“Many of our respondents found this to be an unusually harsh and uncivil debate,” said Robert Boatright, NICD Research Director and Professor of Political Science at Clark University. “However, this was also a debate about civility in that both candidates were quick to point out uncivil statements that their opponents had made.

Respondents generally gave Lester Holt high marks for his persistence in restating questions and for calling candidates to account for uncivil statements they made in the past. Respondents found that Holt treated the candidates respectfully, sought to provide equal time to the candidates, and asked the candidates questions of similar complexity. Holt’s key failing, according to our respondents, was a lack of willingness to condemn uncivil statements made by the candidates during the debate.

The NICD civility questionnaire was completed by students at four colleges and universities, chosen in order to achieve some variety in the location of the schools, the type of school, and the ideological composition of the student body. Students watched the debate together and answered questions on civility as the debate progressed. Additionally, City Clubs in Boise, Idaho and Cleveland, Ohio also distributed the questionnaire to their members. NICD expects to repeat the project in subsequent debates using other demographics and release a report after the election benchmarking this year’s debates against those of prior elections.

“We are interested in the results from a research perspective,” said Boatright, “but we also hope that the experience of filling out the questionnaires prompted participants to think carefully about what constitutes civil behavior during a debate.” 

This research supports the need for NICD’s recently-released set of Debate Standards that, if adopted, would ensure that the debates are fair, informative, and civil. NICD has shared the standards with the Commission on Presidential Debates, presidential debate moderators, presidential campaigns, as well as moderators and candidates in statewide elections.

“In order to set our country back on a civil track, we urge the moderators to adopt the National Institute for Civil Discourse’s Debate Standards and therefore ensure a civil debate, where both sides are heard and respected and treated equally,” said Lukensmeyer.

More than 75 organizations have already signed on to the standards, including AARP; education institutions such as the Tufts University’s Jonathan M. Tisch College of Civic Life, the University of California Berkeley Center on Civility & Democratic Engagement and the University of Virginia Center for Politics; civic forums, such as the City Club of Cleveland and City Club of Portland; and faith organizations, such as the Faith and Politics Institute and Interfaith Alliance. A complete list can be found on NICD’s website:
NICD was formed at the University of Arizona with the goal of improving civility in our political discourse in the wake of the shooting of former Rep. Gabby Giffords. Earlier this year, NICD launched a national campaign to #ReviveCivility.

About the National Institute for Civil Discourse:
The National Institute for Civil Discourse, is a non-profit, non-partisan institute based at the University of Arizona dedicated to addressing incivility and political dysfunction in American democracy by promoting structural and behavioral change. Informed by research, NICD’s programs are designed to create opportunities for elected officials, the media, and the public to engage different voices respectfully and take responsibility for the quality of our public discourse and effectiveness of our democratic institutions. Their National Advisory Board includes former President George H.W. Bush, and former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor.

Standards of Conduct for Debates

Because our democracy depends on it

These Standards of Conduct for Debates provide a framework through which we can model and revive the spirit of civility. The standards are for all candidates for public office, (including local, regional, state and national candidates), for moderators and for the audience. From our local school boards to our presidential nominees, these standards help explain the manner and respect that we all should abide by – even if and when we disagree.

Join us in telling debaters, audiences, and moderators to uphold these standards, and in agreeing to utilize the citizen standards in your everyday interactions.

• Be respectful of others in speech and behavior
• Answer the question being asked by the moderator
• Make ideas and feelings known without disrespecting others
• Take responsibility for past and present behavior, speech and actions
• Stand against incivility when faced with it

  • • Address uncivil behavior by naming it and moderating the conversation to move toward a more respectful dialogue
  • • Enforce debate rules equally
  • • Hold candidates accountable by challenging each candidate to speak the truth and act with integrity
  • • Treat all candidates equally in regards to the complexity of questions and debate rules
  • • Be respectful when interacting with candidates
• Be respectful of other audience members, the candidates and moderators in speech and behavior
• Refrain from creating disturbances to other audience members, candidates and moderators
• Take responsibility for personal behavior, speech and actions
• Speak against incivility by reminding candidates it is not acceptable
• Practice active listening when someone else is speaking, seeking to understand them

Sept. 27, 2016

Statement by AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka on the First 2016 Presidential Debate

The influential power of working people was clear last night when the first question and focal point of the debate was on wages and economic inequality. For more than a year, working people have established a raising wages agenda to shape the political landscape. We’ve seen it on the campaign trail, in the Democratic platform, at both conventions and now at this historic debate.

Presidential debates are an opportunity for candidates to show the American people who is prepared to be the leader of our nation. Hillary Clinton demonstrated her composure and understanding of the challenges ahead, and provided real solutions. Donald Trump on the other hand proved that he lacks integrity, has no plan for America and is entirely unfit to be president.

Contact: Josh Goldstein

Contact: Seth Stein
September 26, 2016  

LCV Statement on the First Presidential Debate

Washington, D.C. – In response to the first presidential debate, LCV National Campaigns Director Clay Schroers issued the following statement: 

“We just saw Hillary lead the evening talking about clean energy jobs and the need to meet the challenge of climate change head-on – while Trump outright lied. He brazenly lied to the American people, saying that he never claimed climate change was a hoax perpetrated by the Chinese - when it is well documented that he did so on his very own twitter feed. 

“While Hillary Clinton brought up climate change on her own, unfortunately Mr. Holt missed a crucial opportunity to ask the candidates for their plans to take action on climate. 125,000 people signed our petition alone urging the moderators to address the issue. Climate change will be a critical test of our next president’s leadership, both at home and abroad – so now the heat is on for Ms. Raddatz, Mr. Cooper and Mr. Wallace to ask a climate question at the next debate.”


Sierra Club
Monday, September 26, 2016
Contact: Adam Beitman

Sierra Club Statement on the First Presidential Debate

NEW YORK, NY - Tonight, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump engaged in the first Presidential debate of the general election. During the debate, Secretary Clinton spoke about the profound economic opportunity posed by clean energy, while Donald Trump denied calling climate change a “hoax” despite using exactly that word on many occasions.

In response, Michael Brune, Sierra Club Executive Director, released the following statement:


“Tonight’s debate made it even more clear that Hillary Clinton is the only candidate in this race qualified and prepared to lead our nation, and Donald Trump proved who and what he is: a small-minded man who denies climate science and uses race and bluster to divide this country.


“The evidence started from the first sentence, when Hillary Clinton spoke of her commitment to grow the clean energy economy. It was only a few moments later that Trump lied about his own climate denial. Donald Trump is a fraud, and you don’t need to look further than his misguided
attempts to deny the climate crisis and then cover his own dirty tracks.


“It’s not just that Hillary Clinton is running on the strongest climate platform in history and Trump is running on the worst. Its that Trump is the worst, most unstable candidate ever nominated and Clinton is the most qualified, and most prepared to ever be on the ballot.”



Sept. 27, 2016

UFCW Statement on First Presidential Debate

Washington, D.C. – Marc Perrone, President of the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) International Union, made the following statement regarding the first Presidential debate between Secretary Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.
“Tonight’s debate showed what so many of our members already know: Secretary Clinton is the undisputed champion of fighting for the issues that truly matter to hard-working families. Frustrated Americans are facing serious challenges and deserve to see real plans for real change, not slogans or empty words. When it comes to building the better America our members care so passionately about, it is clear that Secretary Clinton has the right experience, knowledge, and vision to be the next President of the United States.”
UFCW is the largest private sector union in the United States, representing 1.3 million professionals and their families ingrocery stores, meatpacking, food processing, retail shops and other industries. Our members help put food on our nation’s tables and serve customers in all 50 states, Canada and Puerto Rico. 


AAUW and AAUW Action Fund
September 7, 2016

See Where Presidential Candidates Stand — Play Debate Bingo with AAUW!

The AAUW Action Fund’s It’s My Vote: I Will Be Heard voter education and turnout campaign represents an unprecedented investment in making women’s voices heard in the 2016 election. Follow the AAUW Action Fund on Twitter for the latest updates!

Now that both political parties have held their conventions and have their nominees, it’s time for both candidates to show the American people where they stand on important issues. The presidential nominees will meet for a series of three debates, and their vice presidential running mates will participate in their own debate.

This year, we’re proud to announce a new debate bingo feature: interactive bingo cards! You now have the option of either downloading and printing out your bingo cards (great for a large group!) or playing online with our brand new interactive bingo cards! It’s as easy as click, click, BINGO!

Debates offer an opportunity for voters to see where candidates stand on issues. It’s a chance to see candidates speak off the cuff, without the prepared remarks and teleprompters, and defend their plans for our country. As in past election years, AAUW will be watching to find out candidates’ plans to address policies affecting women and girls like equal paycampus sexual assaultcollege affordabilitypaid leaveSTEM representation, and others.

But because you’re doing such important work holding the candidates accountable for their stances on women’s issues — and because it’s always more fun to play with friends — we hope you’ll tweet your progress and a picture of your winning card with hashtag #AAUWDebates. We’ll be watching and even awarding some prizes! Make sure to follow @AAUWActionFund as we live tweet every debate.

By the end of the debates, we’ll not only have some bingo winners but also a better sense of where both candidates stand on issues important to advancing equity for women and girls. Good luck to us all!

America's Voice
September 23, 2016

Key Immigration Resources Ahead of First Presidential Debate

Our Take on the Key Immigration Questions and Background – and How to Follow Along with America’s Voice

Join with the America’s Voice team to preview and follow along during the first presidential debate –

Google Hangout on Monday, September 26 from 8-8:30 PM:

Join Frank Sharry and Juan Escalante ahead of the debate to discuss what is at stake for undocumented immigrants across the country, specifically the threat of DACA going away if Donald Trump is elected. The event will be live streamed via the AV site:

State debate watch parties with America’s Voice staff and friends (click through link for details):

Asheboro, North Carolina – 825 W Dixie Dr.
Cleveland, Ohio  – Moncho’s Bar & Grill 2317 Denison Ave
Columbus, Ohio – Bottoms Up Coffee Co-Op 1069 W Broad St
Durham, North Carolina (joint phone bank and debate watch party)
Las Vegas, Nevada – 4120 N. Martin L. King Blvd.
Milwaukee, WI  – Candelas Banquet Hall 2537 W National Ave
Washington, DC – Stoney’s on L  2101 L St NW

Key Questions for Donald Trump on Immigration:

1) You have said you will immediately end President Obama’s executive actions on immigration, including the DACA program that currently protects 750,000 young people commonly referred to as DREAMers from deportation. Would they be subject to deportation under a President Trump? 

2) Polls consistently show that by a 3-1 margin Americans believe undocumented immigrants should be able to gain legal status by meeting certain criteria, rather than be deported. Why do you support the deportation of most of these people, especially given multiple reports that doing so would cause significant damage on the economy and impose significant costs on the federal government? 

 Key Questions for Hillary Clinton on Immigration:

1) President Obama promised early action on immigration reform during his first year in office and again after his re-election. You have done the same. He didn’t get legislation passed, how will your administration be different?

2) What will be your policy toward Central Americans fleeing widespread violence in the northern triangle countries of El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala?

Background Resources:

New Studies: Immigrants and Immigration Benefit America: A massive new immigration study from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine finds that immigration creates strong economic growth for the nation as a whole. As the chair of the NAS Panel, Dr. Francine D. Blau noted, “The panel’s comprehensive examination revealed many important benefits of immigration — including on economic growth, innovation, and entrepreneurship — with little to no negative effects on the overall wages or employment of native-born workers in the long term.” Additionally, new immigration studies from the Center for American Progress and Pew Research both demonstrate the incredible costs that America would incur by following Trump’s mass deportation vision.

Immigration Polling: The American people are overwhelmingly – and increasingly – in favor of citizenship for undocumented immigrants – see this polling overview. Immigration may be a point of contention between Trump and Clinton, but Americans have already decided – overwhelming support for legalization and a path to citizenship. More than 72% of Americans back either citizenship or legalization for undocumented immigrants instead of deportation in recent polls from In New York Times/CBS, Quinnipiac, Washington Post/ABC News, CNN, and Gallup. In fact, as the Washington Post highlighted, Donald Trump’s overt nativism actually is “increasing sympathy for immigrants and depressing support for his harsh enforcement techniques.”

Immigrants and Crime: Trump engages in blatant falsehoods regarding immigrants and criminality – see this American Immigration Council overviewon how and why immigration is associated with less crime and safer communities.

Key Reminders and Takeaways

Donald Trump has pledged to immediately end President Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program for DREAMers – a real threat to a real program that is a real benefit for approximately 750,000 DACA recipients (read the new Medium post from DACA recipient and America’s Voice staffer Juan Escalante, who writes that, “My ability to remain in the United States hinges on the 2016 general election”). Recently, Donald Trump, Jr. said that his father likely would seek to deport prominent DREAMer Astrid Silva (who herself penned a recent op-ed making the case for why DACA should matter to 2016 voters and affect races up and down the ballot).

Stop the charade: Trump hasn’t “softened” on immigration: While the Trump campaign’s recent and continued word blizzard around immigration is designed to sow confusion and misinformation, the policy thrust remains consistent and disturbing – Trump certainly has not “softened” on immigration. America’s Voice Executive Director Frank Sharry called Trump’s approach “the most radical immigration policy of any nominee in modern American politics. The intended outcome of Trump’s policy is to drive all but a handful of undocumented immigrants out of the country. That’s 11 million people who live and work and are settled throughout America. If implemented, it would be one of the most shameful chapters in American history.”

The two parties have never had a sharper contrast on immigration. As the Trump-led nativist backlash on the right pulls the Republican Party in the wrong direction on immigration, Hillary Clinton and the Democratic Party are leaning into pro-immigrant policies like never before: pledging to make reform with a path to citizenship a top legislative priority; maintaining the DACA program for DREAMers; and promising to “end family detention, close private detention facilities, and stop the raids and round ups,” as Clinton stated at the recent CHCI gala.

American Petroleum Institute
September 26, 2016

API: Ahead of presidential debate, energy is priority for American voters

WASHINGTON, Sept. 26, 2016 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- API President and CEO Jack Gerard highlighted the importance of American energy ahead of the first presidential debate. Gerard's full remarks, as prepared for delivery, from Monday's press conference call are available on API's website.

"When it comes to Securing America, U.S. status as the world's leading oil and natural gas producer is a game-changer. With steady U.S. supply adding stability to world markets, the influence of less stable regions on fuel costs is diminished.

"Voters identify the economy and jobs as their top election concern, and the American energy revolution's role in economic growth should ensure that it's a focus in tonight's discussion. Last year American drivers saved, on average, over $550 on transportation fuel costs, along with significant savings on home heating and electricity costs. When lower product costs and other savings are factored in, Americans households have an extra $1337 per year in the bank due to shale energy production. Those are major savings that have a real impact for family budgets.

"Our nation's leadership on these critical issues happened largely through American ingenuity, American innovation, and free markets. If the president's 2008 campaign message was 'Yes, we can,' America's oil and natural gas industry in 2016 can say 'Yes, we did.'  Not only is the United States the largest producer of oil and natural gas in the world, we are leading the world in reducing carbon emissions – which are at 20 year lows.

"Whatever the outcome tonight, the American people have already cast their ballot for energy. Seventy-seven percent of voters support increased production of U.S. oil and natural gas. Eighty-two percent support increased infrastructure development, which keeps affordable energy moving to homes and businesses, and could generate $1.14 trillion in capital investments and support as many as 1.15 million jobs."

API is the only national trade association representing all facets of the oil and natural gas industry, which supports 9.8 million U.S. jobs and 8 percent of the U.S. economy. API's more than 650 members include large integrated companies, as well as exploration and production, refining, marketing, pipeline, and marine businesses, and service and supply firms. They provide most of the nation's energy and are backed by a growing grassroots movement of more than 30 million Americans.

Common Cause
September 8, 2016

 Growing Campaign Calls for Presidential Candidates to First Debate Democracy

Over 30 Democracy Reform Groups Urge Debate Moderator Lester Holt to Ask Clinton and Trump about Democracy Reform

Washington, D.C. — A growing campaign under the banner “First Debate Democracy” is calling on presidential debate moderator Lester Holt of NBC to require presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump to talk about how they plan to make our democracy work for all Americans at the very first debate.

The campaign consists of a coalition of over 30 organizations committed to democracy issues and representing millions of Americans nationwide.

“While there are a number of critical policy differences between the candidates, there is one subject so fundamental to our future — so essential to our national identity — that its inclusion in this debate must be guaranteed.  The candidates must first debate democracy itself,” said Morris Pearl, Chair of the Patriotic Millionaires, in an open letter to Lester Holt that kicked off the First Debate Democracy campaign. “Power—more specifically, the distribution of power—in this country affects every aspect of American life from trade deals to criminal justice from water quality to access to medical treatment.”

Groups including money-in-politics and voting reform groups are circulating petitions that will be delivered directly to Lester Holt urging he ask the candidates about democracy issues such as money in politics, voting rights, and filling the Supreme Court vacancy.

Here are more organizations on why the presidential candidates must First Debate Democracy:

“Voters know the problem – our democracy is out of balance – and they are ready to embrace bold solutions. Candidates must tell voters how they will create a 21st Century democracy that works for all of us. Polls indicate voters don’t trust candidates’ plans on any issue unless they address democracy reform first. Americans want to know how can we work together, across party lines, to ensure democracy of, by, and for the people survives the Citizens United era.” – Karen Hobert Flynn, President of Common Cause

“It’s evident this election cycle that Americans are fed up with a democracy that isn’t working for them. At a time in which many Americans are losing faith in our government and public trust in politicians is at record lows, it’s critical that Lester Holt give voters a chance to hear from our presidential candidates about their take on our democracy and how they plan to restore people’s faith in the system. After all, if they want a chance at accomplishing their top priorities when in office, they’ll need to first fix our democracy and the gridlock that pervades Washington, D.C.” – Rahna Epting, Chief of Staff of Every Voice

“A working democracy is the key to progress on all other issues. Unless we have a fully-functioning Supreme Court, voting protections that allow everyone to cast a ballot, and a political system that’s not tilted towards wealthy special interests, it will be next to impossible to tackle challenges ranging from climate change to the stagnant minimum wage. It’s no wonder that polls show democracy issues are at the top of Americans’ minds in 2016. In the first debate, voters deserve to see how each of the candidates plan to address the problems undermining our democratic system.” – Marge Baker, Executive Vice President of People For the American Way

“Americans overwhelmingly agree on a wide range of issues. They want policies to make the economy more fair and hold corporate executives accountable. They want stronger environmental and consumer protections. They want Social Security expanded and corporations to pay their fair share of taxes. But our government is not responding. That’s why it’s so important that the presidential candidates be challenged in the first debate to put forward their solutions to a broken democracy that enables corporate interests to block movement on the American agenda.” – Robert Weissman, President of Public Citizen 

“A central question facing the nation today is whether America will live up to its promise of democracy and political equality for all. We urge Lester Holt of NBC News, as the moderator of this year’s first presidential debate, to ensure that the candidates debate first the health of our democracy and what they will do to preserve our common vision of self-government: of, by, and for the people.” – John Bonifaz, Co-Founder and President of Free Speech For People

“Common sense campaign finance reform is essential to preserving the principles of democracy that have made America great. The people, not the highest bidder should be the decision maker. That’s why we are joining the demand that the presidential candidates first debate democracy itself.  Candidates must demonstrate that their decisions are not based on money, but instead on what is best for the people they aspire to represent.” – John Pudner, Executive Director of Take Back Our Republic

“We’ll never break the death-grip that Big Oil, Big Banks, Big Pharma, and Weapons companies have on America if we don’t first debate Democracy,” – John Sellers, Founder of Other98, an anti-corporate netroots group

“Our republic is at a point of crisis. The donor class is drowning out the will of the people, and politicians are limiting the franchise so they can choose their voters instead of the other way around. This great nation deserves a great system of governance where everyone has an equal say and an equal chance.” – Heather McGhee, President of Demos 

“With one vacancy already on the Supreme Court and three justices who will be in their eighties in the next presidential term, the person who is elected President of the United States this year will have a nearly unprecedented opportunity to shape the Court for decades to come.  It is essential that we hear the candidates’ views on the role of the Court in our democracy, and the qualities they would look for in nominees to the Court.” – Nan Aron, President of Alliance for Justice   

“The deterioration of our democracy is arguably the most important issue we face as a nation, and Americans on the left and the right deserve to hear what the candidates have to say about fixing our broken political system. Conservatives, progressives, and everyone in between agree it’s time to pass laws that stop political corruption – now it’s up to our future leaders to lay out their plans for reform during the presidential debate.” – Josh Silver, Executive Director of Represent.Us

“When Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump first appear on stage together, the candidates should be forced to address the one thing that unites public opinion and that they both seem to agree on: we need to limit the control well-financed special interests’ have over politics and policy making. Every poll conducted on the role of money in politics in recent years demonstrates near-universal agreement about severity of the problem, and about the need for bold solutions.” – Nick Penniman, Executive Director of Issue One

“Americans aren’t just angry that we don’t know who is buying our politicians, we’re angry that our politicians are being bought, period. Before we talk about anything, we have to know what the candidates plan to do to preserve our democracy.  We hope Lester Holt will ask the candidates how they will end the corrupting influence of money in politics” – Olivia Zink, NH Rebellion

“The vast majority of Americans of both political parties understand that money in politics biases our democracy in favor of the wealthy and powerful. The candidates must first debate democracy because the effects of money in politics deeply distort the debate on every other issue.” – Max Stahl, Director of Political Engagement at Democracy Matters 

“With free speech and press freedom issues in the crossfire in‎ the political campaigns, on campus and online (in the first debate) the candidates should be talking about what they will do to uphold and protect the First Amendment. allowing the media  to do its job and making sure that the marketplace of ideas remains open to all.” – Suzanne Nossel, Executive Director of PEN American Center

Groups joining the First Debate Democracy campaign include the Agenda Project, American Promise, Alliance for Justice, Brave New Films, Coalition for Open Democracy, Common Cause, Demand Progress, Democracy Matters, Democracy Initiative, Demos, Every Voice, Free Speech For People, Funders Committee on Civic Participation, Issue One, MAYDAY.US,, The New York Urban League, NH Rebellion, he Other 98%, Headcount, the creators of the documentary Pay2Play, Patriotic Millionaires, PEN American Center, People for the American Way, Public Citizen, Represent.US, ReThink Media, Rootstrikers, Scholars Strategy Network, Stamp Stampede, Take Back Our Republic, and U.S. PIRG.

Office: Common Cause National

Issues: Money in Politics

Tags: Fighting Big Money, Voting Rights

Common Cause is a nonpartisan grassroots organization dedicated to upholding the core values of American democracy. We work to create open, honest, and accountable government that serves the public interest; promote equal rights, opportunity, and representation for all; and empower all people to make their voices heard in the political process.


Co-Sign the Patriotic Millionaires Open Letter to Lester Holt of NBC News. 
Dear Mr. Holt,

As the moderator of this year’s first presidential debate, you have significant flexibility to select the topics you chose to cover. While there are a number of critical policy differences between the candidates, there is one subject so fundamental to our future — so essential to our national identity — that its inclusion in this debate must be guaranteed.  

The candidates must first debate democracy itself.
The gap in this country between the powerful and the powerless is growing faster than we have seen in 100 years, and faster than we can sustain much longer. The contentious nature of this election cycle has laid bare the cracks in our foundation. The country is out of balance and unstable. Too few elites hold too much power, and they are using it to amass even more.  
Specific issues that affect the health of our democracy range from voting rights to an independent judiciary, from gerrymandering to money in politics, from the rule of law to the guarantee of basic freedoms. Each of these topics deserves a full inquiry. Each affects, at the most fundamental level, who has power in this country and who doesn’t.  
Power — more specifically, the distribution of power — in this country affects every aspect of American life from trade deals to criminal justice from water quality to access to medical treatment. In the most extreme cases, power decides not only how people live, but if they live.
You have a keen understanding of the essential role the free press, the fourth estate, plays in a functioning democracy. You have seen firsthand that freedom come under attack. You know that citizens cannot make effective decisions without access to accurate information.  In this fractious time, you have a grave responsibility to your fellow Americans. We urge you to use this unique opportunity to demand answers to our most essential questions from the individuals who seek to lead us.  
You must help us learn whether or not each of these candidates actually believes in the essential equality of each and every citizen. You must ask exactly how they plan to address the gross imbalance of power that has cracked our foundation and threatens to rip our society apart. How will they match the idea of equality with the realities of American politics?
Who has power and who doesn’t? Ultimately the future of our country and the well-being of our citizens rests almost entirely in the answer to those basic questions.  
It is up to you to not just ask the questions, but to demand the candidates answer them.
Thank you,
The Patriotic Millionaires

League of Conservation Voters
September 23, 2016  
Contact: Seth Stein

100,000 Petition Signers Urge Presidential Debate Moderators to Ask Climate Questions

Broad coalition continues driving petition signatures to urge moderators to ask both candidates how they will address the critical issue of climate change

Washington, DC – Today, a broad coalition announced that they have gathered 100,000 petition signatures in the last two weeks urging the Presidential debate moderators to ask Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump questions on climate change. The coalition includes the League of Conservation Voters, Corporate Accountability International, Daily Kos, Defend our Future, Environmental Defense Fund, Friends of the Earth Action, Media Matters for America, NRDC Action Fund and the Sierra Club.

The petition reads:

Our Message to Presidential Debate Moderators Lester Holt (NBC), Martha Raddatz (ABC News), Anderson Cooper (CNN), and Chris Wallace (Fox News):

As the moderators of the 2016 presidential debates, you have the opportunity to ask questions about the most pressing issues facing our country – and climate change must be at the top of the list.

This summer, the climate crisis has fallen right into America’s front yards – from devastating floods in Louisiana to damaging droughts and sweltering heat, we are feeling the impacts of climate change every day. Yet according to a recent Media Matters study, ABC, CBS, NBC, and Fox collectively spent five percent less time covering climate change in 2015 despite landmark actions to address global warming. And just 1.5 percent of the nearly 1,500 questions that debate moderators asked presidential candidates during the primary debates were about climate change.

Millions of voters will get their information about the presidential candidates from the debates. They entrust you with the responsibility to ensure that they know where the candidates stand on an issue that will affect their health, the economy, our national security – and their children's and grandchildren's futures.

We must know where the candidates stand on these issues. Please bring this important issue to the national stage by asking the candidates how they plan to address climate change.


Vote to End Hunger
September 14, 2016

Anti-Hunger Groups Deliver 631,000 Names to Clinton, Trump, debate moderator Holt

NEW YORK--()--Today, a coalition of 166 anti-hunger and -poverty groups delivered the names of more than 631,000 voters to the campaign headquarters of Hillary Clinton and Donald J. Trump. The voters signed a petition calling on the political parties, candidates, and this Congress to make ending hunger a top priority.

The Vote to End Hunger coalition also delivered the names to NBC News anchor Lester Holt, who will moderate the first presidential debate on Sept. 26. The coalition is urging Holt to ask Clinton and Trump the following question: “If elected, what will you do to end hunger, alleviate poverty, and create opportunity in the U.S. and worldwide?”

In addition to delivering the names, VTEH is also undertaking a coordinated social media campaign urging Holt to ask “the hunger question.” The campaign can be followed at #VotetoEndHunger.

More than 42 million Americans, including 13.1 million children, live in households that struggled with hunger in 2015. And close to 43.1 million Americans – or nearly 13.5 percent – live in poverty. This includes 14.5 million children and 4.2 million seniors. Yet the presidential candidates have mostly avoided talking about hunger and poverty during the campaign.

Helping hungry people is a compelling political issue to voters no matter their party affiliation. A recent study found that 1 in 3 voters says they will vote only for candidates who promise to make ending hunger one of their top priorities. And two-thirds of likely voters in swing states say that ending hunger should be one of the top priorities of government.

The organizations delivering the names include Bread for the World, Feeding America, and WhyHunger.

For more information, contact Chris Ford, media relations manager of Bread for the World at 202-688-1077 or

Organizations supporting the Vote to End Hunger coalition include the Alliance to End Hunger, Bread for the World, Feeding America, Food Research Action Center (FRAC), Meals on Wheels America, RESULTS and RESULTS Educational Fund, and Share Our Strength/No Kid Hungry.


September 8, 2016

Media Event: Groups Urge Debate Moderators to Push Presidential Candidates on Hunger

WASHINGTON--()--A coalition of 165 anti-hunger and -poverty groups is holding a conference call with the media on Monday, September 12 at 12:00 pm ET to discuss their plans to bring hunger and poverty issues into the presidential campaign.

If elected, what will you do to end hunger, alleviate poverty, and create opportunity in the U.S. and worldwide?

The Vote to End Hunger coalition is urging the presidential debate moderators to ask the candidates the following question: “If elected, what will you do to end hunger, alleviate poverty, and create opportunity in the U.S. and worldwide?”

On Wednesday, September 14, the coalition will deliver the names of more than 600,000 voters who want ending hunger to be a top election issue to Hofstra University debate moderator Lester Holt. VTEH will also undertake a coordinated social media campaign urging Holt to ask “the hunger question.”

More than 42 million Americans, including 13.1 million children, struggled with hunger in 2015. And close to 47 million Americans – or nearly 15 percent – live in poverty. This includes 15.5 million children and 6.6 million seniors. Yet the candidates have mostly avoided talking about hunger and poverty during the campaign.

Helping hungry people is a compelling political issue to voters no matter their party affiliation. A recent study found that 1 in 3 voters says they will vote for candidates who promise to make ending hunger one of their top priorities.



Rev. David Beckmann, President, Bread for the World

Rebecca Middleton, Executive Director, Alliance to End Hunger

Gwen O'Shea, President & Chief Executive Officer, Health and Welfare Council of Long Island

Maxine Thomas, mother of five and a RESULTS Experts on Poverty member



Press conference call on plans to encourage the presidential debate moderators to ask the candidates what they will do about hunger and poverty.



Monday, September 12, 12 p.m. ET








For more information, contact Chris Ford, media relations manager of Bread for the World at 202-688-1077 or

Organizations supporting the Vote to End Hunger coalition include the Alliance to End Hunger, Bread for the World, Feeding America, Food Research and Action Center (FRAC), Meals on Wheels America, RESULTS and RESULTS Educational Fund, and Share Our Strength/No Kid Hungry.