A conflict of interest could be afoot at the Commission on Presidential Debates if Hillary Clinton gets the Democratic presidential nomination. Her husband, former president Bill Clinton, is an honorary chairman on the commission leadership board.
Republican primary campaigns just finished a confab in Alexandria, Va. discussing how to better improve the debates among themselves, but the bipartisan commission handles details of general election debates between the Republican and Democratic presidential nominees.
The other Democrat who is an honorary chair is former president Jimmy Carter. The only two former Republican presidents who served as honorary chairmen of the commission, Gerald Ford and Ronald Reagan, are deceased. It is unclear, however, how Carter and Clinton function in these roles.
Additionally, considering Jeb Bush’s run for the presidency, if it is an issue of simply lending one’s name to a board and not participating in any process, it is unknown why both former presidents George W. Bush and his father George H.W. Bush are not included as honorary chairs.
“The general is a completely different issue. It’s not part of [the primary debate discussion] at all. My guess is there will be change in the general election debates too. I think the commission has highlighted that too,” Ben Ginsburg, GOP lawyer and current liaison between the Republican primary campaigns and network sponsors told The Daily Caller Sunday night. “I think the Annenberg working group talked about a lot of different options in the general election debates and it will ultimately be left up to the candidates and the nominees to decide.”
The commission is no stranger to controversy. Groups have complained about how moderators are chosen and how much time networks spend lobbying campaigns to get their stars chosen as moderators, Politico points out.
In 2012, Republicans were angry when CNN’s Candy Crowley attempted to fact check GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney in the middle of the debate over his calling out President Obama’s description of the Benghazi attack.
Additionally, conservatives are distrustful over the Republicans who served on the commission during the last election cycle. The Commission added six new members last year including: former Senator Olympia Snowe, former Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels and Leon Panetta, a former Clinton and later Obama administration official.