U.S. Senator Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) announced this week that she is backing bipartisan legislation that would end taxpayer subsidies for future political conventions and return any unused money from 2012 events to the Treasury in order to pay down the deficit. The bill, introduced by Sens. Tom Coburn (R-OK) and Mark Udall (D-CO), would prohibit the use of funds from the Presidential Election Campaign Funds (PECF) for political conventions occurring after December 31, 2012.
"With our staggering $15.7 trillion debt, Americans shouldn't foot the bill for partisan political events," said Senator Ayotte. "In the bipartisan spirit of this legislation, I hope that leaders from both parties will voluntarily return any unused funds from this year's conventions to help pay down the deficit."
Under current law, Americans may choose to divert $3 of their federal tax returns to the PECF, which helps pay for the costs of political conventions every four years. Federal law places relatively few restrictions on how this money is spent, with the bulk of funds used for entertainment, catering, transportation, and hotel and lodging costs. For example, according to the Federal Election Commission, during the 2008 Republican Convention in Minnesota, $885,279 was spent on lodging. At the Democratic National Convention that year, $942,000 was spent on catering. Both political parties each received $18.3 million in taxpayer funds to pay for the costs of the upcoming Republican and Democratic National Conventions in August.