A joint press release from Sens. Mark Udall of Colorado (D) and Tom Coburn of Oklahoma (R):
Senators Mark Udall and Tom Coburn, M.D. (R-OK) today will introduce a bill that would prohibit the use of Presidential Election Campaign Funds (PECF) for party conventions in the elections occurring after December 31, 2012. Additionally, it would allow funds dispersed before that time to be returned to the U.S. Treasury for the purpose of deficit reduction.
“Throughout my time in Congress, I have worked to maintain the integrity and fairness of the presidential nomination process,” Udall said. “Over the past several decades, political party nominating conventions have become elaborate celebrations devoted to partisanship. The American taxpayer should not be responsible for footing the bill for these partisan events. I chose to cosponsor this bill because it is a common sense, bipartisan proposal that will save taxpayers millions of dollars at a time when we need to exhibit more fiscal discipline.”
…Despite our $15.6 trillion national debt, political parties received a $36.6 million check ($18.3 million per party) from taxpayers to pay for the costs of political conventions occurring this summer. The funds that are used to cover these conventions come from the Presidential Election Campaign Fund (PECF). According to the Congressional Research Service (CRS), “Federal law places relatively few restrictions on how PECF convention funds are spent, as long as purchases are lawful and are used to ‘defray expenses incurred with respect to a presidential nominating convention.'” Besides funding the event itself, the money is used to pay for entertainment, catering, transportation, hotel costs, “production of candidate biographical films,” and a variety of other expenses. These events will be weeklong parties paid for by taxpayers, much like the highly maligned GSA conference in Las Vegas.
It’s fine with us, Denver just had a convention and the one before that was 100 prior. It’s safe to bet that we won’t be getting another one anytime soon. It’s also pretty hard to argue with this as an example of a place to show some fiscal discipline–at some point, a convention that actually involved some drama would probably change that. For now, political conventions really are a taxpayer-subsidized party, even if private funds pay many of the bills.
This does not mean we’re ungrateful for 2008, however. Our local economy still thanks you all.