Senate Votes to End Public Financing for Party Conventions

The party is over, Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., declared today.

The Senate has voted to end public financing for political party conventions. The measure passed as an amendment to the Farm Bill by an overwhelming and bipartisan vote of 95-4.

"Fortunately, the Senate said the 'party is over' when it comes to travel and meetings paid for by taxpayers," Coburn hailed after the vote, "In these tough times, there is no justification for spending public funds on booze, balloons and confetti when both parties are awash in campaign donations."

Convention financing comes from the little box on your tax return where taxpayers can dedicate $3 of their income tax to go toward public financing of political campaigns.

Neither Barack Obama nor Mitt Romney is accepting public financing for their campaign operations.

But as of May the Republican and Democratic parties have each received checks from the U.S. Treasury for a total of $36.5 million to be spent on their conventions in Charlotte and the Tampa this summer. By law if that money is not spent, it stays in the campaign fund to be used four years later.

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Coburn says if this country couldn't do this small thing then the country is "doomed," so he was happy with the outcome of today's vote.

"Ninety-nine percent of the American public has no idea when they check the box that we're going to take actual American taxpayer dollars and subsidize party conventions for candidates who have better already been decided," Coburn said moments before the vote on his amendment today.

The Farm Bill, which includes the convention measure, still needs to be passed in the House of Representatives before coming law. It would not take effect until the next general election in 2016.

Coburn had put the public financing of the conventions as the number one item in his annual "Wastebook" of the most wasteful expenditures of taxpayer money. Coburn has called on RNC Chairman Reince Priebus and DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman-Schultz to voluntarily give their convention money back for this year's upcoming conventions.

Both parties have, so far, declined.

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