Sen. Bernie Sanders's presidential campaign sent its supporters an urgent call for donations Tuesday, saying it was up to them whether pledged delegates could afford trips to Philadelphia.
"Here's the thing: Our delegates are not wealthy campaign contributors," wrote campaign manager Jeff Weaver in the email. "They're not party insiders or establishment elites. They're working folks, and it's not easy for many of them to fly to Philly and stay in hotels for a week. ... It's easy for the political establishment to navigate this and know whom to call to find the right way in. That, or they're wealthy enough to pay for themselves."
Hundreds of delegates for Sanders and Hillary Clinton have launched crowdfunding campaigns to support their own journeys to Philadelphia. The party conventions, which seek private funding, are both still short on their goals. (This year's conventions are also occurring two months earlier than the last presidential conventions in 2012.)
Elected officials are allowed to tap campaign funds for their basic logistics. Some of the people pulled into politics by this year's campaigns are learning, belatedly, that they must foot their own bill. Sanders's campaign is now seeking to defray that, which is allowed by the FEC.
In doing so, the Sanders campaign is making no suggestion that it can defeat Clinton on the floor. "We expect there could be critical votes for the party platform and electoral process," writes Weaver, in oblique language that could just as easily refer to the reforms Sanders wants to make to primary rules.
The full text of Weaver's letter:
Before our nearly 1,900 delegates can vote at the Democratic convention next month, we need to actually get them to Philadelphia.
Here's the thing: Our delegates are not wealthy campaign contributors. They're not party insiders or establishment elites. They're working folks, and it's not easy for many of them to fly to Philly and stay in hotels for a week.
Our delegates include people like Robert O'Connell, a disabled veteran who served in Afghanistan. Just a few years ago, he was homeless. Robert canvassed and made phone calls for Bernie, and now he's a Bernie delegate from Missouri. He lives on a fixed income, and needs your help to get to the convention.
We expect there could be critical votes for the party platform and electoral process, and we'd hate to fall short on these votes because some of our delegates like Robert couldn't afford to go. That's why I'm asking you directly:
Make a $2.70 contribution to our campaign before Thursday's midnight FEC deadline to help our delegates come to the Democratic convention so we can have our entire political revolution represented next month in Philadelphia.
You'd be shocked at how expensive it is to attend the Democratic convention. It can cost more than $4,000 per delegate!
Hotels are booked months in advance, and then resold at higher prices. Lobbyists throw all sorts of fancy parties. It's easy for the political establishment to navigate this and know whom to call to find the right way in. That, or they're wealthy enough to pay for themselves.
Our political revolution is not made up of people like that. It's made up of folks like these:
Alexa Vaca is the daughter of two Mexican immigrants who is a student at Kennesaw State University and a delegate from Georgia. She's roadtripping to the convention, but still needs a place to stay in Philadelphia. Your contribution will allow Alexa to be at the convention for our campaign.
Angel Velez Perez is a special needs teacher in Puerto Rico who started organizing for Bernie by volunteering at a local Ben & Jerry's to promote voting. He would travel for hours to get trained with the campaign and is now a delegate for our campaign from Puerto Rico.
Marisol Rubio is a single mother of a disabled child who survived brain cancer. She's an advocate for disability rights and is one of our Bernie delegates from California. We need her to be in Philadelphia to tell her story and help advance our political revolution.
Nick Vaidyanathan is the son of immigrant parents. He grew up in homelessness and poverty, but worked hard through college — with three jobs to support his family — and graduated. Now he's a Bernie delegate, and he needs your help to get to the convention.
Robert, Alexa, Angel, Marisol, Nick, and so many other delegates need to be at the convention, but they can't do it on their own. Let's make sure they can all fight for Bernie in Philadelphia.
____, can you help before Thursday's midnight FEC fundraising deadline?
Contribute $2.70 to our campaign and make sure that Bernie's delegates can get to the Democratic convention next month.
Thank you for stepping up to help the members of our political revolution.