This article explores the interface between public deliberation and interest politics. It empirically examines how and when actors with vested interests support and oppose processes of direct citizen deliberation, such as citizens' juries. An analysis of four cases finds that interest groups and activists respond to citizen deliberation in a variety of ways from cooperative engagement to disruptive disengagement. The research suggests that partisan actors are most likely to support citizens' forums when the ideational and political context offers instrumental reasons to go public. The article explores what this strategic approach to public deliberation implies for the practice and theory of deliberative democracy.