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Public debates


A tax-exempt nonprofit organization (a 501(c)(3) or 501(c)(4) organization) that does not endorse, support, or oppose candidates or parties may stage candidate debates.

Candidate debates may also be staged by a broadcaster, a bona fide newspaper, a magazine or other periodical publication as long as they are not owned or controlled by a political party, committee, or candidate.

Corporate/labor donations permitted

A corporation or labor organization may donate funds to a tax-exempt nonprofit organization that does not endorse, support, or oppose any candidate or party to defray the cost of staging a candidate debate.

Debate structure

The debate must include at least two candidates and must be structured so that it does not promote or advance one candidate over another.

Candidate selection

The organization staging the debate must select the candidates based on pre-established objective criteria. For primary elections, the organization may restrict candidates to those seeking the nomination of one party. For general elections, the staging organization may not use nomination by a particular party as the sole objective criterion.