Democrats wasted no time in opening their new gift from Congress. The year-end federal budget bill included a way for the political parties to raise huge new sums for their conventions, and the Democratic National Committee has already set up a fundraising vehicle to do just that, a Federal Election Commission filing shows.
The DNC's convention committee went live last week.
In previous years, the Democratic and Republican parties needed to carve convention funds out of their main budgets, which were amassed through $32,400-maximum-per-individual contributions. Now, they can tap donors for up to $97, 200 per year just for the convention. That's one of three new ways a wealthy individual can give to the parties–all in addition to the standard contribution. Donors can also help pay for office renovations and legal expenses such as election recounts (It's spelled out on page 1,599 of the spending bill.)
Party officials have argued that they need these new fundraising streams to offset Congress's elimination of public funding for nominating conventions; that money, raised through a tax filing check-off, was rerouted to pediatric research. In 2012, each party was entitled to up to $18.2 million for nominating conventions, according to the FEC. That was a fraction of the roughly $70 million each one cost in 2012, when Republicans held theirs in Tampa, Fla., and Democrats hosted in Charlotte, N.C.
Republicans already have picked Cleveland to host their 2016 convention.
The Democrats' 2016 festivities will take place in New York, Philadelphia or Columbus, Ohio. They'll choose the site in 2015. The release announcing the finalists included this predictable P.S.: "Obviously, we have a lot of work to do before 2016, and only you can help us do it. Click here to support the Democratic Party with a small monthly donation."