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! 

Like What You’ve Read? Support CounterPunch
August 04, 2015
Vincent J. Roscigno
University Bureaucracy as Organized Crime
Paul Street
Bernie Sanders’ Top Five Race Problems: the Whiteness of Nominal Socialism
Ramzy Baroud
The Palestinian Bubble and the Burning of Toddler, Ali Dawabsha
Herbert Dyer, Jr.
Is White Supremacy a Mental Disorder?
Pepe Escobar
Reshuffling Eurasia’s Energy Deck — Iran, China and Pipelineistan
L. Michael Hager
The Battle Over BDS
Eric Draitser
Puerto Rico: Troubled Commonwealth or Debt Colony?
Colin Todhunter
Hypnotic Trance in Delhi: Monsanto, GMOs and the Looting of India’s Agriculture
Benjamin Willis
The New Cubanologos: What’s in a Word?
Matt Peppe
60 Minutes Provides Platform for US Military
Binoy Kampmark
The Turkish Mission: Reining in the Kurds
Eoin Higgins
Teaching Lessons of White Supremacy in Prime-Time: Blackrifice in the Post-Apocalyptic World of the CW’s The 100
Gary Corseri
Gaza: Our Child’s Shattered Face in the Mirror
Robert Dodge
The Nuclear World at 70
Paula Bach
Exit the Euro? Polemic with Greek Economist Costas Lapavitsas
August 03, 2015
Joseph Mangano – Janette D. Sherman
The Atomic Era Turns 70, as Nuclear Hazards Endure
Nelson Valdes
An Internet Legend: the Pope, Fidel and the Black President
Robert Hunziker
The Perfectly Nasty Ocean Storm
Jack Dresser
The Case of Alison Weir: Two Palestinian Solidarity Organizations Borrow from Joe McCarthy’s Playbook
Ahmad Moussa
Incinerating Palestinian Children
Greg Felton
Greece Succumbs to Imperialist Banksterism
Binoy Kampmark
Stalling the Trans-Pacific Partnership: the Failure of the Hawai’i Talks
Ted Rall
My Letter to Nick Goldberg of the LA Times
Mark Weisbrot
New Greek Bailout Increases the Possibility of Grexit
Jose Martinez
Black/Hispanic/Women: a Leadership Crisis
Victor Grossman
German Know-Nothings Today
Patrick Walker
We’re Not Sandernistas: Reinventing the Wheels of Bernie’s Bandwagon
Norman Pollack
Moral Consequences of War: America’s Hegemonic Thirst
Ralph Nader
Republicans Support Massive Tax Evasion by Starving IRS Budget
Alexander Reid Ross
Colonial Pride and the Killing of Cecil the Lion
Suhayb Ahmed
What’s Happening in Britain: Jeremy Corbyn and the Future of the Labour Party
Weekend Edition
July 31-33, 2015
Jeffrey St. Clair
Bernie and the Sandernistas: Into the Void
John Pilger
Julian Assange: the Untold Story of an Epic Struggle for Justice
Roberto J. González – David Price
Remaking the Human Terrain: The US Military’s Continuing Quest to Commandeer Culture
Lawrence Ware
Bernie Sanders’ Race Problem
Andrew Levine
The Logic of Illlogic: Narrow Self-Interest Keeps Israel’s “Existential Threats” Alive
ANDRE VLTCHEK
Kos, Bodrum, Desperate Refugees and a Dying Child
Paul Street
“That’s Politics”: the Sandernistas on the Master’s Schedule
Ted Rall
How the LAPD Conspired to Get Me Fired from the LA Times
Mike Whitney
Power-Mad Erdogan Launches War in Attempt to Become Turkey’s Supreme Leader
Ellen Brown
The Greek Coup: Liquidity as a Weapon of Coercion
Stephen Lendman
Russia Challenges America’s Orwellian NED
Will Parrish
The Politics of California’s Water System
John Wight
The Murder of Ali Saad Dawabsha, a Palestinian Infant Burned Alive by Israeli Terrorists
Jeffrey Blankfort
Leading Bibi’s Army in the War for Washington