There are still six months until the doors open at the Democratic National Convention in uptown Charlotte, but one group of party leaders is already handing out perks and special access.
The perks include choice hotel rooms and access to the skyboxes and the convention floor.
A fundraising letter from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee sent to Democrats in the House of Representatives breaks down the offerings.
The DCCC is a Washington-based group that helps Democrats running for the U.S. House.
The letter offers a “premier package” to the convention to House members who contribute enough money to the party. The package includes two rooms at some of the best hotels in the Queen City, credentials for the convention hall and access to the skyboxes.
“When you go to a conference, or a convention, or the Super Bowl, you get the early bird special. What you’re seeing leadership say is, ‘You get in early; here’s the early bird special. You get in early, and here’s some incentives,’” said Paul Braithwaite, the former executive director of the Congressional Black Caucus.
Charlotte Democrat Mel Watt said these offerings are standard practice. The Democratic Party regularly asks its congressmen to chip in money for future Congressional candidates and they use political conventions as leverage, he said.
However, there’s a problem.
Convention leaders said they have not yet allocated any hotel rooms or convention credentials. There is also no guarantee the DCCC is getting a slate of hotel rooms, let alone premium rooms in the best Charlotte hotels.
And government watchdog groups do not like the idea of party leaders using the convention to squeeze elected officials for money.
“You have great pressure to go out to special interests to raise that money, and the special interests give that money because they have an agenda,” said Meredith McGehee with the Campaign Legal Center. “That money buys access and influence, and that troubles many Americans.”
A spokesman for the DCCC responded to questions about its fundraising appeal with a brief statement.
“Members have enjoyed participating in conventions in the past and look forward to doing so again in Charlotte,” he said.