Candidate Debates and Forums - Alliance for Justice

Candidate Debates and Forums


Leslie Barnes, Tim Mooney, Quyen Tu


On this episode, our third in our 2022 Election series, we thought we’d look at how nonprofits can further democracy through candidate debates. Since the pandemic, we’ve seen organizations get seriously creative in using technology to engage and keep us safe and socially distanced. If you’re a long-time listener, you might recall that we also hosted an episode on Candidate Debates in 2020, back when we launched during the shutdown.  

Our Lawyers for This Episode:

Leslie Barnes Tim Mooney Quyen Tu

Quick Overview  

  • Public charities can convene candidate debates and forums 
  • The safe harbor for (c)(3)s hosting candidate debates 
    • Narrowing invitees based on nonpartisan criteria
    • Publicize widely and invite public
    • Neutral moderator
    • Questions: broad and wide-ranging topics
    • Equal treatment of each candidate
    • No pledges
    • Best practices
    • Hosting a debate watch party and commenting on debates
    • Fact checking is OK, supporting/opposing candidates is not
  • Forums
    • Facts and Circumstances analysis
    • Federal university rule
  • Candidate meet and greets