Friday, September 12, 2008

D & R Party Slush Funds & Democracy / Stomping Of Bill Of Rights ...


The Party Police

By Amy Goodman

The Democratic and Republican national conventions have passed, but controversy surrounds how they were funded and how they were run. Mass arrests of peaceful protesters, excessive police violence, wholesale disregard for the Bill of Rights and the targeting and arrest of journalists marred what should have been celebrations of democracy. The “host committees,” the legal entities that organize and pay for the conventions, act as large party slush funds, outside of campaign-finance restrictions. Scores of major corporations (and a couple of unions), barred from giving unlimited funds to political parties, could give whatever they wanted to the host committees of Denver and St. Paul, Minn.

According to a recent article in National Underwriter magazine, “Both the Republican National Committee and Democratic National Committee refused to comment on their insurance purchasing decisions, or even reveal who was providing coverage for their respective conventions.” Bruce Nestor, president of the Minnesota chapter of the National Lawyers Guild, who organized scores of legal observers around the Twin Cities to protect citizens’ legal rights, told me: “St. Paul actually negotiated a special insurance provision with the Republican host committee so that the first $10 million in liability for lawsuits arising from the convention will be covered by the host committee. The city is very proud of this negotiation. It’s the first time it’s been negotiated between a city and the host committee. But it basically means we [the city] can commit wrongdoing, and we won’t have to pay for it.” According to the Minnesota Independent, more than 40 journalists were arrested or detained during the Republican National Convention.

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