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Illegal Convention Parties? Not on Our Watch


Aug. 21,2012

Illegal Convention Parties? Not on Our Watch

Public Citizen to Uncover Improper Influence-Peddling in Tampa and Charlotte, Alert Media

Public Citizen will monitor the upcoming Republican and Democratic conventions to sniff out soirees that break congressional ethics rules or feature influence-peddling, and will let media know about them. Information about when and where the parties are taking place and who is sponsoring them will be gathered from a variety of sources, including the nonpartisan Sunlight Foundation’s Party Time website, PoliticalPartyTime.org.

And this week, Public Citizen will launch an online petition urging both the Democratic and Republican Parties to disclose names of those who contribute to their host committees and ban corporate giving to host committees for future conventions. Public Citizen also will use social media during the conventions to urge people at the conventions to blow the whistle on illegal parties.
Following the Jack Abramoff lobbying scandals that gave rise to the Honest Leadership and Open Government Act of 2007, Congress adopted a series of important lobbying and ethics reforms. One new rule prohibits lobbyists and lobbying organizations from paying for parties at the national conventions that “honor” members of Congress. Eight reform groups recently warned all of Congress to steer clear of lobbyist-funded parties held in their honor because it would violate new ethics rules. (Click here for information about the letter to lawmakers.)

The warning was spurred in part by differing guidance provided by the House and Senate ethics committees. Click here for more information about political convention funding.

“Our goal is to highlight the influence-peddling that goes on and show Americans why we need sweeping campaign finance reform,” said Craig Holman, Public Citizen’s lobbying and ethics expert. “The nominating conventions are supposed to be publicly funded events, not the huge corporate-financed lobbying galas we now witness.”