SHARECOMMENTMORE

TheHigh Point (N.C.) Enterprise penned an editorial this week criticizing the public funding system for political conventions.

As the 10 News Investigators reported earlier in the week, both Democrats and Republicans feast on tax dollars to throw their four-day"nominating" parties. And the safeguards in-place to avoid special interest influences aren't working.

Below is the Enterprise's editorial:

As the Republican National Convention next week in Tampa and the Democratic National Convention in two weeks in Charlotte approach, discussion in some quarters has turned to whether the gatherings are still relevant today.

And the answer is no - speaking strictly in terms of selecting a party nominee for president. Even before today's wall-to-wall coverage of the conventions, it's been decades since selection of the party nominee was actually in doubt until delegates cast votes on the convention floor.

But we don't expect to see the party nominating conventions to go away anytime soon. The events are too good of an opportunity to showcase the political parties - their candidates, their leaders and their political platforms. The political parties, even in cash-strapped years, will want to shell out money to put on the best face possible for the party and its people.

Even for the non-political junkies among us, somewhere in all the coverage there is something interesting to read and to watch. For those of us who do relish such coverage of politics, there are exciting moments to be had - especially when protests and demonstrations are planned, such as this year at both conventions, even when tight rules are placed on demonstrators.

But are the conventions worth the taxpayer money that also is spent to hold them? The conventions provide a huge amount of information for the electorate - whether you are for or against a particular candidate or party being showcased at the time - and that can be considered a public service and legitimate use of tax dollars.

However, just what amount should the taxpayers pay? This year, about $36.5 million is being split evenly between the two parties to help them fund their conventions. The money comes from funds accrued through the $3 tax checkoff on federal income tax forms. According to the About.com website, some 33 million people contribute via that tax checkoff. Distributions began in 1976, with the parties splitting about $4.4 million. In 2008, the two parties split about $33.6 million.

In these days of trillion-dollar annual budget deficits, and with a national debt heading rapidly toward $20 trillion, should the political parties be expected to pay their own ways for their convention showcases? In these tough times for the taxpayers, a reasonable answer to that question is yes. So let the parties put on conventions as lavish as they wish, but just let them do it without the taxpayers' money.