Spending spree: Where does the GOP spend its convention loot?

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An accounting of the exact costs of a national presidential nominating convention cannot be made until after the multi-day event has concluded. Host committees are not required by law to reveal details of how they spend their money until after the convention. Even then, they typically report overall numbers for wide ranging categories for types of spending, not individual line items. Party committees formed to handle convention expenses do have to submit line items detailing each expense related to the convention.

The Center for Public Integrity reviewed tens of thousands of pages of Federal Election Commission documents filed by the Philadelphia 2000 host committee, the Committee on Arrangements for the 2000 Republican convention, and the COA for the 2004 Republican convention for expenditures made between January 2003 and June 30, 2004. The New York City 2004 host committee is not required to file documents with the FEC until 60 days after the conclusion of the convention.

Select expenses for the committees were entered into databases for analysis. However, because of the incomplete or unclear nature of many of the line items—it sometimes wasn’t obvious what the good or service was or to whom the payment was made—the disbursement numbers here may not reflect the total spending per category or vendor.

The Center categorized the data from the COA for both the Philadelphia and New York conventions by four main categories: Payroll and consulting, travel and lodging, media/video/production, and parties/catering/events. Costs for items like office expenses, copying and telephone expenses, and expenses where the good or service purchased is unclear, were left out of the databases.

The Philadelphia host committee filed 990 tax forms with the IRS and several reports with the FEC. The Center examined both the IRS forms and the 60-day post convention FEC report issued by the host committee, and put expenses into 11 categories.

2000 Committee on Arrangements:

Starting with the COA data for the 2000 Republican convention in Philadelphia, the Center analysis found the top categories of spending to be:

  • Payroll and consulting, $8.2 million ($5.8 million consultants’ fees, $1.67 million salaries, $680,927 for payroll processing/taxes)
  • Travel and lodging, $2.7 million ($2.4 million in miscellaneous travel expenses, $178,031 lodging, $106,046 staff housing, $12,552 airfare)
  • Media/videos/production, $1.1 million ($470,000 web site services, $310,000 in media consulting $227,980 in general media expenses, $48,322 in photography)
  • Parties/catering/events, $397,250 ($140,699 on decorations and flowers, $205,752 in miscellaneous expenses, $50,799 catering)

Among the top individual recipients of payments (including travel expenses) were:

  • David J. Nash and Associates, production consulting, $2.4 million.
  • The Freeman Companies, production consulting, $1 million.
  • Wyndham Franklin Hotel, Philadelphia, travel/lodging, events, $1 million.
  • Paychex, payroll processing and taxes, $825,992.
  • First Union Bank, loan repayment, $725,000.
  • Maverick Media, media, $485,000.
  • Tierney Communications, Web site services, $470,000.
  • Greener and Hook, consulting, $440,064.

Individual line items by category (includes travel expenses for individuals or companies):

Consulting

  • David J. Nash and Associates, production consulting, $2.4 million.
  • The Freeman Companies, production consulting, $1 million.
  • Greener and Hook, consulting, $440,064.
  • Huckaby Davis & Associates, consulting, $333,716.
  • William D. Harris and Associates, consulting, $305,813.

Travel/lodging

  • Wyndham Franklin Hotel, Philadelphia, $1 million.
  • Philadelphia Marriott, $234,872.
  • The Windsor, Philadelphia, $136,232.
  • Hilton Garden Inn, Philadelphia, $113,539.

Parties/catering/events

  • Current Events International, decorations, $61,000.
  • Marathon Grill, Philadelphia, catering, $17,410.

Media/videos/production

  • Maverick Media, media, $485,000.
  • Tierney Communications, web site services, $470,000.

Top salaries among COA officials (including travel expenses)

  • James DiPaula, $202,207.
  • Republican National Committee, $171,332.
  • D. Jan McBride, $90,038.
  • Ellis Kitchen, $80,267.

Philadelphia host committee disbursements

The Center analyzed different public filings representing where the Philadelphia host committee spent its money. An examination of the group’s tax forms found that expenditures lumped into very broad categories:

  • Other expenses, $34 million
  • Travel, $2.8 million
  • Occupancy, $552,293
  • Other salaries, wages, $357,019
  • Compensation to officers, directors, etc., $232,500
  • Legal expenses, $2,341.

The Center also examined the hundreds of pages of the 60-day post convention report that Philadelphia 2000 filed with the FEC, detailing expenses. Here’s a breakdown of what the Center found after putting the data into more detailed categories:

  • Consulting, $20.7 million
  • Event expenses (includes catering, decorations, facility modifications, etc.), $17.9 million
  • Travel/lodging/transportation, $7.4 million
  • Computers, $4.1 million
  • Miscellaneous expenses, $3.28 million
  • Communications, $2.8 million
  • Office supplies (includes office rent, furniture, photocopying, etc.), $1.7 million
  • Media, $1.1 million
  • Site selection process (includes bid production, site selection tour, other receptions and gifts), $1 million.
  • Insurance, $806,319.
  • Staff (shared staff with the Greater Philadelphia Visitors Bureau), $731,446.

According to Center analysis, the following five organizations were among those who received the largest payouts from the Philadelphia host committee for goods and/or services:

  • City of Philadelphia, $14.6 million
  • Freeman Decorating, $5.49 million
  • David J. Nash Associates, $3.5 million
  • Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, $2.6 million
  • Transportation Management Services, $2.6 million

2004 Committee on Arrangements (Jan. 2003-June 30, 2004)

The analysis of the COA spending for the 2004 convention in New York City does not paint a complete picture, as much of the heavy convention spending has yet to occur. The Center reviewed the documents detailing spending from January 2003 through June 30, 2004.

The Center analysis found the top categories of spending to be:

  • Payroll/consulting, $4.7 million (including $1.7 million for consultants’ fees, $1.7 million for salaries, $1.1 million for payroll processing/taxes)
  • Travel/lodging, $585,043
  • Media/videos/production, $283,149
  • Parties/catering/events, $169,570 (including $48,288 entertainment, $35,864 for event/reception, $64,618 misc. expenses)

Among the top individual recipients are:

  • Paychex, Inc., payroll processing and taxes, $845,812.
  • David J. Nash Associates Inc. (includes David Nash), production consulting and travel expenses, $769,135.
  • Wachovia Bank, loan repayment, $425,000.
  • William D. Harris and Associates (includes William Harris), consulting and travel, $367,239
  • Maverick Media, media, $250,000.

Individual line items by category:

 

Consulting

  • David J. Nash Associates, production consulting and travel expenses, $769,135.
  • William D. Harris and Associates, consulting and travel, $367,239.
  • Frank Breeden, consulting and travel, $120,438.
  • James DiEleuterio, consulting and travel, $119,304.
  • Campaign Solutions, consulting and travel, $113,484.

Travel/lodging

  • Amtrak, $13,961.
  • The Waldorf-Astoria, lodging, $12,723.
  • Westin, New York/Times Square, $6,918.
  • Sunny’s Executive Sedan Service, $5,005.

Parties/catering/events

  • MJ Corporate Sales, $33,823.
  • Capital Hilton, $14,812.
  • 21 Club, New York, $2,616.

Production/video/media

  • Maverick Media, $250,000.
  • Verascent, web, $11,500.

Top COA salaries (including travel reimbursements)

  • Hector Irastorza, $169,646
  • Committee on Arrangements Payroll Account, $130,638.
  • Mike Miller, $115,792.
  • Elizabeth Apisson, $91,044.
  • Cathy D. Alix, $90,868.

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