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Convention donors have no limits

Sen. John McCain, left, and Barack Obama

TEXT OF STORY

Bob Moon: The Democratic and Republican conventions are each expected to cost in excess of $60 million, and the host committees in Denver and the Twin Cities are both still fundraising at a furious pace. As Marketplace's Steve Henn reports, many of the biggest donors are companies and unions with business before Congress.


Steve Henn: Campaign finance laws may limit the donations lawmakers can accept, but when it comes to paying for conventions, companies and unions can give as much as they want.

Chris Lopez is communications director for the Democratic National Convention:

Chris Lopez: There are sponsors who will contribute a million dollars.

So what do you get for that kind of cash?

Lopez: They can get a variety of things, depending on which opportunity or opportunities they would like. So you're essentially offer them a menu.

During Obama's big speech, the largest donors will watch from sky boxes. They get concert tickets and private talks with dignitaries.

But Steve Weissman at the Campaign Finance Institute says most of the biggest donors want something else.

Steve Weissman: You know, you've got companies that are doing federal legislation, all during this period.

Weissman's group identified more than 170 donors kicking in for the conventions. They've spent more than a billion dollars lobbying Washington in the last few years.

In Washington, I'm Steve Henn for Marketplace.

About the author

Steve Henn was Marketplace’s technology and innovation reporter for the entire portfolio of Marketplace programs until December 2011.
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