CPI From Cleveland: Who’s Paying for All Those Balloons?

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InDepthNH.org is posting Center for Public Integrity stories from the Republican and Democratic conventions, which will be updated daily.

Editor’s note: The Center for Public Integrity’s money-in-politics reporting team is bringing you news from the Republican National Convention — focusing on special-interest influence, big-money politicking and corporate schmoozing. Senior political reporter Dave Levinthal is on the ground in Cleveland. 


10:54 p.m., Wednesday, July 20: Someone has to pay for all those balloons. On the eve of the conventions, Republicans continue to vastly outstrip Democrats in amassing contributions to the new party convention accounts meant to help pay for the coronations in Cleveland and Philadelphia this month, according to newly filed campaign finance reports.

Republicans reported raising about $3.7 million in June. Major donors included New York investor Anthony Scaramucci and casino owner Phil Ruffin, who also spoke at the Republican National Convention tonight. The Republican Party has now reported raising roughly $19 million for its convention account so far this election cycle.

Democrats reported just a tenth of what Republicans did in June — $337,400. The DNC’s major donors last month included Laura Ricketts, a member of the family that owns the Chicago Cubs, and political action committees for defense contractor Honeywell, retailer Wal-Mart and the American Federation of Teachers labor union. Democrats have now raised about $5.3 million for their convention fund.

Political parties at one time received $18 million each in public funding for their conventions, in addition to money earmarked for security. But Congress eliminated this funding in 2014. To make it up, lawmakers created special “convention” accounts for each political party, allowing individuals to contribute $100,200 and political action committees to kick in $45,000. That’s in addition to other contributions to the party.

Corporations and unions may not give directly to these accounts, although political action committees they sponsor may do so.

— Carrie Levine

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