Bill to end subsidies for conventions

U.S. Senators Tom Coburn, M.D. (R-OK) and Mark Udall (D-CO) today will introduce a bill that would prohibit the use of Presidential Election Campaign Funds (PECF) for Party Conventions.

Specifically for elections occurring after December 31, 2012 public funds will be disallowed and funds
dispersed before that time could be returned to the Treasury for the
purpose of deficit reduction.

“Voluntarily returning convention funds would be a great act of leadership and statesmanship for both parties.  Nevertheless, it’s time for Congress to act and end the practice of subsidizing annual convention parties with taxpayer dollars,” Dr. Coburn said.  “With a languishing recovery and unsustainable debt, there is no justification for spending public funds on booze, balloons and confetti. I hope my colleagues will support this common sense legislation that says the ‘party is over’ when it comes to travel and meetings paid for by taxpayers.”

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.’”[1] 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.[2]  These events will be weeklong parties paid for by
taxpayers, much like the highly maligned GSA conference in Las Vegas.

“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 taxpayer millions of dollars at a time when we need to exhibit more fiscal discipline.”

Supporting documents

Congressional Research Service report on 2008 Democratic and Republican national convention spending and data provided by the Federal Election Commission (FEC) on PECF expenditures used for party conventions.

Dr. Coburn called for the elimination of taxpayer subsidies for party conventions in his 2011 Wastebook report, citing this report from the Congressional Research Service on federal funding for 2012 Presidential nominating conventions.