FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Convention Slush Funds

by RALPH NADER

Chairman Reince Priebus
Republican National Committee
Phone number:202-863-8500
Fax number: 202-863-8773

Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz
Democratic National Committee:
Phone number: 202-479-5100 ‎
Fax number: 202-226-2052

Dear Chairpersons:

The tough times in America continue. Tens of millions of Americans are feeling the squeeze and are suffering diminished livelihoods. More than 15 million children go to bed hungry at night. Unemployment and underemployment affect more than twenty million adults. Calls for cutting into the core of programs for the needy, the vulnerable and the disadvantaged regularly emanate from Congress.

These calls are coming most insistently from the Republican leaders. Congressman John Boehner, Eric Cantor, Paul Ryan and Senator Mitch McConnell are demanding severe reductions in effective social programs and more tax cuts for the wealthy and the large corporations, many of which have been paying very little or no federal income tax, such as General Electric.

Against this background, what have the two parties done? This year they have each taken $18.2 million in taxpayer money for their national political conventions in Tampa, Florida and Charlotte, North Carolina later this summer. The money comes from taxpayers via the Treasury Department’s “$3 Tax Check-off” found on tax return forms.

Taxpayers who check-off are told that the money generally goes “to the Presidential Election Campaign Fund.” Taxpayers are not told the first priority is funding for the party nominating conventions, not the general election nominees and primary election candidates.

Taxpayers who opt for this partial public funding of elections may not like funding political extravaganzas for the two parties, festooned by banners, musical entertainment, food, drink and other amenities. They might not want their tax dollars associated with nearby lavish corporate hospitality parties loaded with lobbyists lusting for access, subsidies and other special privileges.

They might not want to have their tax dollars mixed with corporate contributions to the two conventions from the oil, drug, insurance, banking, nuclear, military weapons and agribusiness-food processing giant multinationals.

When your two parties in Congress established this slush fund for the conventions years ago, they tried lamely to justify the use of taxpayer contributions for the conventions by declaring that televised conventions were educational presentations; live democracy in action. That didn’t pass the laugh test then or now. The nominations are all wrapped up. The conventions will be coronations of Barack Obama and Mitt Romney. The party platforms are done deals.

Party rituals, the mutual admiration exchanges and the scripted, pre-cleared speeches by selected speakers are the highlights of these uncontested, predetermined, rigged shows of inaction.

Pay for your own parties, your own liquor and your own entertainment.

Return the misled taxpayers’ $36.4 million to the U.S. Treasury now. Or if you wish to receive some benefit from this modern version of “l’etat c’est moi,” donate the money to the Tampa and Charlotte charities that are feeding the hungry poor and homeless. Their menu will certainly be different than yours, but they (with their strapped budgets) certainly will be pleased by the gesture.

I have sent copies of this communication to charitable associations that provide food and other necessities for the growing number of impoverished Americans in Charlotte and Tampa. The recipients were Second Harvest Food Bank, Loaves and Fishes, and Faith Soldiers in Charlotte, North Carolina; and Feeding America, Kaye Prox Food Bank, and Metropolitan Ministries in Tampa, Florida. Those compassionate providers and their volunteers, reached on the telephone, were gracious regarding the meaning of this message to you.

Other citizen, charitable and religious groups in these two metropolitan areas may be inclined to emphasize this request with their own manifestations later next month. You would be well-advised to wisely render their reactions unnecessary by taking this humane initiative.

Should you not respond to this plea, which I am sure would be supported by the vast majority of the American people of all political persuasions, your conventions could be labeled the “Marie Antoinette cabal of 2012.” Surely, you remember what she suggested.

Ralph Nader is a consumer advocate, lawyer and author of Only the Super-Rich Can Save Us! He is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion, published by AK Press. Hopeless is also available in a Kindle edition.

Ralph Nader is a consumer advocate, lawyer and author of Only the Super-Rich Can Save Us! 

More articles by:
May 24, 2016
Sharmini Peries - Michael Hudson
The Financial Invasion of Greece
Jonathan Cook
Religious Zealots Ready for Takeover of Israeli Army
Ted Rall
Why I Am #NeverHillary
Mari Jo Buhle – Paul Buhle
Television Meets History
Robert Hunziker
Troika Heat-Seeking Missile Destroys Greece
Judy Gumbo
May Day Road Trip: 1968 – 2016
Colin Todhunter
Cheerleader for US Aggression, Pushing the World to the Nuclear Brink
Jeremy Brecher
This is What Insurgency Looks Like
Jonathan Latham
Unsafe at Any Dose: Chemical Safety Failures from DDT to Glyphosate to BPA
Binoy Kampmark
Suing Russia: Litigating over MH17
Dave Lindorff
Europe, the US and the Politics of Pissing and Being Pissed
Matt Peppe
Cashing In at the Race Track While Facing Charges of “Abusive” Lending Practices
Gilbert Mercier
If Bernie Sanders Is Real, He Will Run as an Independent
Peter Bohmer
A Year Later! The Struggle for Justice Continues!
Dave Welsh
Police Chief Fired in Victory for the Frisco 500
May 23, 2016
Conn Hallinan
European Union: a House Divided
Paul Buhle
Labor’s Sell-Out and the Sanders Campaign
Uri Avnery
Israeli Weimar: It Can Happen Here
John Stauber
Why Bernie was Busted From the Beginning
James Bovard
Obama’s Biggest Corruption Charade
Joseph Mangano – Janette D. Sherman
Indian Point Nuclear Plant: It Doesn’t Take a Meltdown to Harm Local Residents
Desiree Hellegers
“Energy Without Injury”: From Redwood Summer to Break Free via Occupy Wall Street
Lawrence Davidson
The Unraveling of Zionism?
Patrick Cockburn
Why Visa Waivers are Dangerous for Turks
Robert Koehler
Rethinking Criminal Justice
Lawrence Wittner
The Return of Democratic Socialism
Ha-Joon Chang
What Britain Forgot: Making Things Matters
John V. Walsh
Only Donald Trump Raises Five “Fundamental and Urgent” Foreign Policy Questions: Stephen F. Cohen Bemoans MSM’s Dismissal of Trump’s Queries
Andrew Stewart
The Occupation of the American Mind: a Film That Palestinians Deserve
Nyla Ali Khan
The Vulnerable Repositories of Honor in Kashmir
Weekend Edition
May 20, 2016
Friday - Sunday
Rob Urie
Hillary Clinton and Political Violence
Andrew Levine
Why Not Hillary?
Paul Street
Hillary Clinton’s Neocon Resumé
Chris Floyd
Twilight of the Grifter: Bill Clinton’s Fading Powers
Eric Mann
How We Got the Tanks and M-16s Out of LA Schools
Jason Hirthler
The West’s Needless Aggression
Dan Arel
Why Hillary Clinton’s Camp Should Be Scared
Robert Hunziker
Fukushima Flunks Decontamination
David Rosen
The Privatization of the Public Sphere
Margaret Kimberley
Obama’s Civil Rights Hypocrisy
Pete Dolack
We Can Dream, or We Can Organize
Chris Gilbert
Corruption in Latin American Governments
Dan Kovalik
Colombia: the Displaced & Invisible Nation
Jeffrey St. Clair
Fat Man Earrings: a Nuclear Parable
Medea Benjamin
Israel and Saudi Arabia: Strange Bedfellows in the New Middle East
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail