- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 27, 2008

The Democratic and Republican nominating conventions are expensive undertakings, but if the American people knew just how much of their tax dollars are being used to pay for the security, parties and issues-based symposiums, they may think twice about the spare-no-expense approach the parties take when planning these mass gatherings.

For starters, let’s address the money taxpayers are sending directly to the campaigns every April when they check the box - “Do you want $3 of your federal tax to go to the Presidential Election Campaign Fund?” - on their federal-tax returns. This year, each party will receive $1 for its convention activities for every person that checked “yes” totaling $32.8 million divided evenly between the two party conventions. Are any of those 32,800,000 people actually invited to the convention? Probably not.

But the money train doesn’t stop there. Last year, Congress earmarked (remember that dirty word Republicans are trying to ban from the halls of the Capitol) $100 million to be divided evenly for security at the parties’ conventions. The funding was tucked into a bill to fund the Invesco) Stadium.

But that $130 million is just the bare bones of the convention, or 20 percent of it to be exact. The remaining 80 percent is paid for with funds raised by the host committees comprised of the local delegations of Minnesota - politicians and grass-roots-party faithful - and of course others who want to hold special receptions. That 80 percent tag is the reason average-joe Americans can’t get into the conventions and why the ticket prices are astronomically high. Unless you are a party official, a member of the radio, television or print press or some other varied invitee, your best shot is to watch the show.

And there is another catch to the host committees. Oddly, they are not classified as a political party, political action committee or anything political by the America’s power brokers.

Service Employees International Union are just a few of the big-money donors to the Democratic convention.

If hypocrisy had another name, it is party conventions. Democrats and most Republicans have signed on to John McCain’s logic of getting big-money out of politics, but it is too bad they haven’t decided to get them out of the conventions as well. Then again, if they had, it is likely that taxpayers would still be footing the bill for the entire charade.

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