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Thanks to the Supreme Court’s ruling in the Citizens United case, the nominating conventions of the two major political parties is calling attention as never before to the linkages between political giving and the purchase of influence for wealthy individuals, corporations, and trade associations.
“For Big Givers, Cash and Clout Arrive Together.” By Nicholas Confessore. New York Times. August 26, 2012. When thousands of delegates, elected officials and party leaders begin arriving in Tampa, Fla., for the Republican National Convention, hundreds of lobbyists, corporate executives, trade associations and donors will be waiting for them, exploiting legal loopholes — and the fun-house atmosphere — that make each party’s quadrennial conventions a gathering of money and influence unrivaled in politics.
In many ways, their activities amount to a parallel convention, one in which access to elected officials, party leaders and delegates provides corporations, interest groups and lobbyists a chance to advance their causes as the party goes about its official business nearby.
The money-access-power matrix is that much more visible this year with the rise of the super PACs and politically active tax-exempt groups. Such organizations now rival the formal party apparatus in money and influence, and allow wealthy individuals and corporations to donate unlimited money to political causes, sometimes without having to disclose their identities.
What happens day to day in Washington — fund-raising, lobbying, dining and entertainment — expands to a gigantic scale around the conventions.
Both parties are receiving $18 million in taxpayer funds, money controlled by party officials to put on each convention’s official speeches and nominations. But far more private money flows into each party’s “host committee,” a tax-exempt nonprofit organization that, under a loophole created in the 1980s, can accept unlimited individual, corporate and union contributions and does not have to disclose its finances until October.