THE OTHER $100 MILLION
Mitt Romney is now formally the GOP presidential candidate. I figured he’d accept the nomination, especially after all those swell things his wife said about him and saving that red dress he gave her on her birthday in April to wear for her convention speech. As they say, “If Mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy”.
Each party gathering at their political pulpits and bringing their funny hats every four years has been an American tradition since 1832. I’ve been to a Republican and a Democratic National Convention. It’s quite a spectacle to see so many people committed to their party, experience their enthusiasm, and watch the hoopla. And conventions are an excellent source for finding great bumper stickers. I added “Wake Up and Go to Work: Millions of People on Welfare Are Counting on You!” to my collection. You can easily figure out which venue was selling that one.
But conventions are costly events, especially for taxpayers. The cost to fund the two 2012 conventions exceeds $136 million.
Over the past four years, an estimated 33 million taxpayers annually chose to tick the “Yes” box on their federal tax returns to donate $3 to the Presidential Election Campaign Fund (PECF). That’s their money and their choice.
The PECF oversees the contributions and doles it out to both parties. This year, based on the $36.5 million taxpayer donations in the PECF piggy bank, each party received $18,248,300.
The other $100 million? That came from taxpayers.
That’s what Congress, defined by Fred Reed as “535 commoditized temple monkeys pawing through the ruins of America in search of bribes”, and what I call the Über Special Interest Group (ÜSIG)— “set aside” for security at each convention.
In 2008, the ÜSIG appropriated the funds (P.L. 110-16) to be given to the state and local law enforcement agencies “securing” the convention sites. At that time, the national debt was $9.6 trillion dollars.
U.S. Senator Tom Coburn (R, Oklahoma) said political conventions are ‘summertime parties’ and has called on Congress to end taxpayer subsidies for them, as have a handful of others in the Senate.
What a novel idea.
The Tampa Host Committee raised $55 million for the GOP convention and it’s well known that major corporations, unions, and industry and trade organizations donate to the Host Committees. Again, that’s their money and their choice.
But we won’t see those donor lists for a while. The Host Committees aren’t required to disclose their donor lists to the Federal Election Commission, the “U.S. independent regulatory agency created to administer and enforce the statute that governs the financing of federal elections” until December 15th. That’s one of the many laws the FEC created for themselves.
But I digress.
This is about taxpayer money and we, the taxpayers, have no choice.
Many advocacy groups have expressed their outraged at the $100 million “set aside” but have gotten little, if any, media attention.
We should all be outraged.
Now that the Information Age and social media outlets have changed our world, there is no need to spend millions of taxpayer dollars for traditional four-day conventions (shortened to three days this time by the Republicans due to Isaac with the Democrats following suit) when the nominees have been chosen well in advance.
We’ve heard all of the promises before and know that few, if any, will ever come to fruition.
The rhetoric spouted by an assortment of State Governors, senate candidates, former senators and other nabobs and potentates is “déjà vu all over again”, as Yogi Berra said.
Who cares what the talking heads have to say.
It’s time for conventions to be cut back to 24-hour televised events.
Save the money. Tweet the highlights…
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June Smith is the widow of Ron Smith, WBAL Talk Show Host, Emmy® Award winner, and Baltimore Sun columnist, who was a media titan in Maryland area and beyond for almost forty years. Her tribute website, founded in his memory, is www.friendsofronsmith.com. She is working diligently to raise one million dollars for the Ron Smith Pancreatic Cancer Research Fund at Johns Hopkins. Her email is firstname.lastname@example.org.