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DC Notes: Sen. Tom Coburn asks political party leaders to return money for their conventions

Tom Coburn, R-Muskogee, noted that both parties had criticized the recent scandal about the federal General Services Administration spending lavishly on a Las Vegas conference.
by Chris Casteel Published: May 20, 2012
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Coburn targets party conventions

Sen. Tom Coburn wants the national Republican and Democratic parties to prove their commitment to ending taxpayer-funded junkets.

In a letter to party leaders last week, Coburn said the parties should return the checks they received last year to fund their 2012 national conventions.

According to the Federal Election Commission, each party received $17.7 million last year, with another $600,000 to be allotted this year for each of the gatherings.

The convention money comes from the same public fund that finances presidential candidates and is provided by taxpayers through a voluntary checkoff on income tax returns.

In his letter, Coburn, R-Muskogee, noted that both parties had criticized the recent scandal about the federal General Services Administration spending lavishly on a Las Vegas conference.

Coburn said the political conventions “will be weeklong parties paid for by taxpayers, much like the highly maligned GSA conference in Las Vegas. At a time when confidence in Washington has dropped to all-time lows and the federal debt is growing by more than $1 trillion a year, we need more than election year rhetoric and political posturing. Taxpayers expect leadership demonstrated by action.”

Coburn said it is likely that, for the 2008 conventions, taxpayers covered the Democrats' bill at the Ritz Carlton in Denver and the Republicans' $32,250 bill for speech coaching services.

Last year, the U.S. House passed a bill sponsored by Rep. Tom Cole, R-Moore, to abolish the presidential campaign fund to save $617 million over the next 10 years. The Obama administration came out against the bill, and it wasn't considered in the U.S. Senate.

When the parties received their convention checks last year, Cole said, “It's outrageous for the government to write $17 million checks to political parties when we're facing trillion-dollar deficits. The Presidential Election Campaign Fund is an outdated, wasteful program that only 7 percent of Americans support.”

Democrats are holding their convention in Charlotte, N.C., while the Republicans are gathering in Tampa, Fla.

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by Chris Casteel
Washington Bureau
Chris Casteel began working for The Oklahoman's Norman bureau in 1982 while a student at the University of Oklahoma. After covering the police beat, federal courts and the state Legislature in Oklahoma City, he moved to Washington in 1990, where...
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