Senate Strips Public Funds From Party Conventions

Later this summer, Republicans gather in Tampa, Fla., for their presidential nominating convention; Democrats will then do the same in Charlotte, N.C. Each party gets more than $18 million in public funds this year to help pay for the gatherings.

The money comes from that $3 check-off box on federal tax returns. But this could be the last time party conventions get taxpayer funding.

The Senate has passed a bipartisan measure cutting off all public funding for conventions after this year. The amendment is part of the farm bill that just passed the Senate.

Oklahoma Republican Senator Tom Coburn co-sponsored the bipartisan ban.

“So we’re borrowin’ money from the Chinese to fund a Hallelujah Party in both Tampa and Charlotte this year, each one of them gettin’ $18.4 million. It’s time that kind of nonsense stops.”

Coburn thought his measure would be defeated, but he was wrong. It passed 95 to 4.

Louisiana’s Mary Landrieu is one of the four Democrats who voted against cutting off public funding for conventions because, “otherwise you’re gonna have only corporate money involved in conventions, and I think frankly, you know, the public should have an opportunity to contribute if they want.”

But huge amounts of corporate money are already being spent at conventions.

Sen. John McCain was the nominee at the GOP’s last presidential convention in St. Paul, Minn.

“With all the money that’s flowing through the system today, the funding of the convention is a minor item,” McCain says.

Last year, the Republican-run House passed a ban on public funding for conventions but it died in the Senate. With Thursday’s vote, such a ban appears more likely.

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