Section 5, pages 4-5 of the binding “Memorandum of Understanding” that was negotiated and agreed upon by both political campaigns states:
“No props, notes, charts, diagrams, or other writings or other tangible things may be brought into the debate by either candidate…. Each candidate must submit to the staff of the Commission prior to the debate all such paper and any pens or pencils with which a candidate may wish to take notes during the debate, and the staff or commission will place such paper, pens and pencils on the podium…”
As INDC commenter DYKWIA put it,
There really isn’t much to discuss here.
1. Candidates were forbidden from bringing any tangible items to the debate.
2. Kerry clearly brought a tangible item to the debate and is thus in breach of the rules.