At Republican National Convention, big donors get big access

Here and Now

Hundreds of lobbyists, trade groups and donors are descending on the Republican Convention in Tampa, and they’re carrying plenty of money and influence with them.

Just outside the official convention, they’re hosting a near-constant stream of parties and events that give them access to elected officials, and a chance to advance their interests.

Dave Levinthal, political influence reporter at Politico, said both the Republican and Democratic conventions would be a "veritable feeding fest" for outside interests.

"You think things are concentrated when it comes to power in D.C., well you go to the conventions and it's even more so," he said.

At least on the Democratic side, though, money's not flowing quite as easily. Many union groups were outraged that Democrats chose to have their convention in North Carolina — a right-to-work state.

"We're not going to a full picture, at least in terms of the contributions made to the convention committees, until around October," Levinthal said.

It's only then that the committees are required to report the information.

Democrats initially said they would release the information voluntarily beforehand, he added, but have since stepped away from that.

Republicans have a big lead in terms of campaign spending already, with the conservative Super PACs, like Americans for Prosperity, outspending liberal groups by a margin of eight-to-one, according to an analysis of FEC records.

"We don't expect that to change going forward," Levinthal said. "The conservative organizations have done a masterful job of fundraising and getting millionaires and billionaires who agree with them and who are philosophically aligned, to make big dollar donations."

Liberals, on the other hand, have struggled to connect with their big donors in the same way.

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