Sullentrup Wins Anti-Corruption Award in NYC

December, 2007

Rock-The-Debates, Inc. founder and Libertarian Party National Secretary Bob Sullentrup will be honored in New York City on December 18 being presented with the "Anti Corruption" award by the Independence Party of New York County.

Rock-The-Debates, Inc. seeks to get third party and independent candidates into the 2008 presidential debates who are on the ballot in enough states to have a mathematical chance of winning the presidency. The Commission on Presidential Debates, an organization comprised of Republicans and Democrats, controls the debates and effectively excludes third parties and independents. Rock-The-Debates is not affiliated with any political party.

The Independence Party of New York County will award Sullentrup and Rock-The-Debates cohort Larry Reinsch of Iowa, chair of the Iowa Citizens Debate Commission, their annual Anti-Corruption Award at a gala event across from City Hall in Manhattan.

"We have Americans dying in Iraq to promote democracy in that part of the world", Sullentrup noted, "while in this country we can't manage to have free, open and inclusive presidential debates. There's something fundamentally wrong with that."

The approach of Rock-The-Debates is to 'bird-dog' candidates when they appear in voter-accessible places like Iowa and New Hampshire. One person asks the 'Rock-The-Debates' question - "Would you, Mr. or Ms. Candidate, be willing to debate those with a mathematical chance of winning?" - while the other person captures the video. The organization hopes the candidate responses featured at their website, rockthedebates.org, will help to ignite a groundswell of public support for open, inclusive presidential debates.

Sullentrup met Libertarian Party member Seth Cohn when he attended the Free State Project convention in New Hampshire in February trying to drum up interest for Rock-The-Debates. "Talking to Seth was like hitting a home run on the first pitch," Sullentrup noted, "He's the one who told me there was a name for this - 'bird-dogging' the candidates." Seth Cohn has been the organization's webmaster, one of its videographers and board member since its inception.

Sullentrup's and Cohn's efforts follow litigation and a 2004 publicity drive to highlight the debates issue. Rock-The-Debates board member Jackie Salit, president of the Committee for a Unified Independent Party, has litigated against the Commission on Presidential Debates "since the day it was founded." Board member and author George Farah whose 2004 book No Debate and website OpenDebates.org, led the publicity drive four years ago.

"Technologies are coming available that fundamentally change the landscape of possibilities for human beings," Sullentrup continued. "I see that every day at work, and You-Tube in particular has allowed us to bird-dog candidates on a shoestring."

Richard Winger, publisher and editor of Ballot Access News, studied presidential elections since before the Civil War and found that most of the time there were no more than four candidates with a mathematical chance of winning and only twice have there been as many as seven. This would seem to debunk arguments that including third party candidates would lead to there being too many candidates on stage.

"If we can select Miss America from 50 states, we should be able to select our president from a handful," Winger pointed out.

Sullentrup is a computer specialist living in St. Charles with his wife, Diane.

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