Wednesday, 9 March 2022

Nonprofit Commission On Presidential Debates Made $8.7M In 2019

By Adam Andrzejewski for RealClearPolicy
The Republican National Committee recently made news for planning to prohibit Republican candidates from participating in future debates run by the nonprofit Commission on Presidential Debates. The commission has run every presidential and vice-presidential debate since 1987.
Its mission is “to ensure, for the benefit of the American electorate, that general election debates between or among the leading candidates for the offices of President and Vice President of the United States are a permanent part of the electoral process.”
According to its tax form 990, the commission made a cool $8.7 million in 2019.
Where did this revenue come from? On its tax form, it claims $7.5 million came from “program services,” which the IRS defines as, “Revenues received by an organization while charging for the services for which it received tax-exemption.”
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In this context, one would assume that means debates, except there were no presidential debates in 2019. The commission also “prepares educational materials and conducts research to improve the quality of debates,” but it’s difficult to imagine how it received $7.5 million from preparing educational materials.
It also advises other countries how to hold debates, but that service is presumably free as a nonprofit (or if it’s not, it should be labeled a consulting firm and pay taxes like other firms).

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Luckily, it appears the commission has found plenty of ways to spend the cash. The executive director made a generous $561,312 in compensation during 2019. The commission’s travel and occupancy expenses totaled over $220,000 in 2019. It also paid a consultant, Martin Slutsky, $104,749. The total assets nearly doubled from $7.3 million at the beginning of the year to $14.5 million at the end of the year.
The commission should be more transparent about where the money is coming from when it’s not hosting debates and justify why these activities are deserving of the tax break that comes with nonprofit status. 
Syndicated with permission from Real Clear Wire.
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