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Political hangover: Conventions are over, bill goes to taxpayers

By   /   July 29, 2016  /   News  /   No Comments

PHILADELPHIA – The major parties’ political pep rallies may be over, but the costs live on for American taxpayers.

While the 113th Congress in 2014 eliminated the 40-year-old Presidential Election Campaign Fund – and the $18-plus million that went to each party committee for its convention, the 114th Congress passed a law giving a combined $100 million – $50 million to each committee – to cover security costs.

Undisclosed is the money the Secret Service spends to protect the nominees and their families and President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, and the first and second ladies.

Photo by Watchdog.org

ON GUARD: An army of police provided tight security in and around the Wells Fargo Center at this week’s Democratic convention. Here, police move media and others through a security checkpoint with metal detectors.

Several blocks surrounding the Wells Fargo Center, site of this week’s Democratic National Convention, looked like a militarized zone. Black metal fencing lined the sidewalks and streets, with some law enforcement in battle armor, some patrolling in Mine-Resistant Ambush-Protected vehicles, thousands more securing the area. A similar situation prevailed in Cleveland last week.

Taxpayers from the host cities and counties of the Republican and Democratic Party conventions paid millions of dollars preparing for and putting on the partisan shows.

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Philly.com has estimated the total cost of the Democratic convention at $85 million, with much of that price tag going to cover the hefty costs of equipment, lighting, food and the hundreds of employees needed to make it all happen. Labor costs, of course, could be higher if the organizing Democrats would have supplemented the hourly wages up to the $15 or more they have called for in their “most progressive platform ever.”

The GOP’s Cleveland Host Committee set a goal of raising $64 million to pay for the Republican Party convention, according to Yahoo Finance.

The parties’ committees raise millions of dollars to help pay for the conventions, bolstered by expanded federal contribution limits for individual and political action committees.

The Cleveland and Philadelphia metropolitan areas project hundreds of millions of dollars in economic impact, a pretty decent return on investment. But taxpayers from most everywhere else in the country are left paying much of the bill for these partisan parties.

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M.D. Kittle is bureau chief of Wisconsin Watchdog and First Amendment Reporter for Watchdog.org. Kittle is a 25-year veteran of print, broadcast and online media. He is the recipient of several awards for journalism excellence from The Associated Press, Inland Press, the Wisconsin Broadcasters Association, and others. He is also a member of Investigative Reporters & Editors. Kittle's extensive series on Wisconsin's unconstitutional John Doe investigations was the basis of a 2014 documentary on Glenn Beck's TheBlaze. His work has been featured in Town Hall, Fox News, NewsMax, and other national publications, and his reporting has been cited by news outlets nationwide. Kittle is a fill-in talk show host on the Jay Weber Show and the Vicki McKenna Show in Milwaukee and Madison.