At past conventions, corporate lobbyists would receive hotel rooms and credentials in exchange for a contribution, but Democrats aren't offering those perks this year, leaving companies to find space in their budgets for hotel rooms.
"It's a huge problem," said Petersen, who lobbied on behalf of Volvo Group North America from 2003 to 2007. "Thank God that the Republicans didn't change their formula this time around. We know if folks spend money with Republicans, they will try to find a way to give it to us."
Fees range from $5,000 for more modest services such as recruiting attendees for parties to $30,000 for full-fledged itinerary development.
Today, Conventions 2012 employs a dozen people and retains a former Federal Election Commission staffer and former House Ethics Committee counsel as legal advisers. Come the long offseason, the firm strips down to a bare-bones staff of four.
So, why start a business that only sees game day once every four years? Easy. "It is the Super Bowl of politics," Henry said.
Terri Henderson, 6, center, whose mother is El Salvador, attends a rally with members of Congress at Union Station's Columbus Circle to announce the Restore Opportunity, Strengthen, and Improve the Economy (ROSIE) Act on July 29, 2014. The legislation provides incentives for government contractors to pay a living wage and other benefits that would help low-income workers.