Party Pooper?

Posted January 31, 2005 at 6:29pm

If Rep. Roscoe Bartlett (R-Md.) has his way, there will be no publicly funded partying in late summer 2008, at least not at the nominating conventions.

“I see no justification for the taxpayers to pay for the political parties to party,” said Bartlett, who has a bill to abolish public financing of the Democratic and Republican conventions every four years.

[IMGCAP(1)] He has introduced similar legislation every Congress since the 106th. Since then, the public funds allocated for the conventions has declined relative to contributions from corporations and individuals, which have increased precipitously.

But that hasn’t changed Bartlett’s view that any amount of taxpayer money directed toward the quadrennial events is misguided.

“Taxpayers’ money is already dwarfed several times over by special-interest money at both political conventions,” Bartlett said in an interview. “All the more reason we should abolish it, since it’s obviously not needed.”

Without counting $25 million in federal security grants for each, the Democratic and Republican conventions cost more than $65 million and $100 million, respectively, according to the Campaign Finance Institute. The federal government provided 23 percent of the funding for the Democratic National Convention in Boston and 14 percent of the funding for the GOP confab in New York City.

In 1992, by contrast, federal funding accounted for 29 percent of the Democrats’ total and 52 percent of the GOP’s bill.

“The average American has no idea that they are supporting these parties,” Bartlett said.

Celebrating Chisholm. In celebration of Black History Month and in honor of the late Rep. Shirley Chisholm, the U.S. Capitol Historical Society will sponsor a lecture Wednesday on the New York Democrat’s career and impact.

Chisholm died Jan. 1, having suffered from several strokes. She was 80.

Chisholm was the first black woman to win a seat in the New York state Assembly and, later, a seat in the House of Representatives. In 1972, she became the first black woman to seriously campaign for the presidential nomination of a major party.

Shola Lynch, director and producer of the documentary “Chisholm ’72: Unbought and Unbossed,” will speak at the event, which is open to the public. Some of Chisholm’s former colleagues and members and staff of the Congressional Black Caucus also expected to attend.

The lecture will begin at noon in room 216 of the Hart Senate Office Building.

— Suzanne Nelson and Jennifer Lash