July 18, 2016

MEDIA ADVISORY: Party Conventions Are Now Privately Funded Millionaire and Billionaire Soirees

Public Citizen Will Be Monitoring Convention Parties, Corporate and Lobbyist Spending

With the Republican Party convention starting today and the Democratic Party convention being held next week, corporate donors, lobbyists and the wealthy are emerging to buy influence by financing the events.

Expect spending records to be set by both conventions. The Republican convention in Cleveland is expected to cost a whopping $71 million; the Democratic convention in Philadelphia is predicted to cost nearly $65 million. Much of the spending will originate from private sources outside the party committees, such as from the cities’ “host committees,” which can take unlimited donations from corporations, unions and other special interests.

During this year’s conventions, Public Citizen will be monitoring the events and will notify the media about which events violate ethics rules. Lisa Gilbert, director of Public Citizen’s Congress Watch division, and Craig Holman, government affairs lobbyist for Public Citizen’s Congress Watch division, are available to talk about convention spending. They can inform your audience that:

  • The Democratic and Republican national conventions were supposed to be publicly financed electoral events with reasonable ethics restrictions on influence-peddling by lobbyists. Instead, they have turned into privately financed soirees funded by corporations, the super-rich and lobbying firms that seek favors from the federal government.
  • $64 million of the $71 million total cost of the Republican convention will come from private sources outside the party committee. With the Democratic convention, $60 million of the $65 million cost will come from the host committee.
  • The remainder that comes from the party committees is also special interest money. Most of it comes from wealthy individuals who can afford to chip in $100,200 – which is the individual donation limit to the conventions.
  • “Host committees” claim to represent their host city, but because they are not classified as political committees, they can contribute as much of their money to conventions as they want.
  • Public Citizen is warning both House and Senate members, as well as their congressional staff, to avoid violating congressional ethics rules while attending the conventions.

To speak with Lisa Gilbert or Craig Holman, please contact any of the individuals above.

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