Senator Tom Coburn attacked convention financing last month, and he's at it again, this time with friends:
Sens. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) and Mark Udall (D-Colo.) will introduce legislation Monday ending federal funding to party conventions in presidential elections.
The legislation stops the Democratic or Republican parties from using Presidential Election Campaign Funds (PECF) for party conventions. The legislation would apply to conventions after Dec. 31, 2012, meaning it would not affect conventions scheduled to take place in late August and early September of this election cycle. Instead of conventions, the money would go to the Treasury to help reduce the deficit.
"Voluntarily returning convention funds would be a great act of leadership and statesmanship for both parties. Nevertheless, it’s time for Congress to act and end the practice of subsidizing annual convention parties with taxpayer dollars," Coburn said in a statement on Monday.
And Washington Post liberal columnist Jonathan Bernstein agrees:
I’m not sure that it makes sense for the federal government to subsidize the party structure, as opposed to subsidizing candidates. But it’s a lot harder to argue that it makes sense for the government to pay for this particular part of the candidates’ campaigns. About all I can come up with is that it’s a back-door way to preserve a bit of partial public financing, which I think is a stretch; or that there’s some compelling federal interest in preserving the form (if not the original function) of the conventions. I’m not sure the conventions would survive without the subsidy, but as much as I personally love the traditions, I pretty much think that if the parties and campaigns aren’t willing to pony up for them, there’s no reason to bother.
We'll have to see if the conventions this summer, and their lack of drama, help drive this effort in future years.