Tom Coburn has heard enough posturing about that $800,000 conference the Government Services Agency held in Las Vegas. He’s got a bigger target: The $36 million taxpayers will spend on the Democratic and Republican conventions this summer.
Earlier this year, Coburn put the public financing of the conventions as the number one item in his annual “Wastebook” of the most wasteful expenditures of taxpayer money. Now Coburn has written a letter to RNC Chairman Reince Priebus and DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman-Schultz asking them to give the money back.
“Can we agree once and for all the party is over when it comes to travel and meetings paid for by the taxpayers?” Coburn wrote today in a letter to Priebus and Wasserman-Schultz. “If you agree, I would urge you to reject the millions of dollars of public financing for your 2012 party convention provided by the federal government through the Presidential Election Campaign Fund (PECF) and to return the money to the federal government.”
The convention financing comes from a taxpayer fund that comes from the so-called $3 check-off — the little box on your tax return where taxpayers can dedicate $3 of their income tax to go toward public financing of political campaigns.
And the DNC and RNC Respond:
DNC spokesperson Kristie Greco said, “Political nominating conventions are an essential part of our democratic process, voluntarily funded by the taxpayers. Contrary to Senator Coburn’s assertions, we use the federal grant to fund the functions necessary to renominate the president and vice president.”
RNC spokesperson Sean Spicer said, “Conventions serve an important role in the process of nominating candidates for President and Vice President of the United States. If Senator Coburn has ideas on how to overhaul campaign finance laws that will provide political parties with viable alternative funding sources or on the funding for future conventions, he should address them through the legislative process.”
I think the key thing here is that the money comes from voluntary funding. Ever wonder what the money goes toward when you check the box on your return? $36 million is a drop in the bucket on what we'd save if we returned to Reagan-era taxes.