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"Super Bowls of influence-peddling"

The national political conventions in the U.S. this summer will be financed partly by Verizon Communications Inc., International Business Machines Corp. and dozens of other companies seeking federal action that will benefit their businesses.

Corporate donors will have their names displayed before lawmakers and government officials -- the same people the companies and other interest groups spent $2 billion lobbying last year. The conventions offer companies another way to make donations beyond the $2,000 their executives can give to candidates or the $15,000 their political action committees are limited to donating to each party.

In the case of conventions, the law places no limit on donations. Verizon has given $3 million to the convention host committee in New York, where Republicans meet in August. IBM donated $2 million for the events in New York and Boston, where Democrats meet in July. And Raytheon Co. has given $1 million to the Boston committee, according to committee Web sites and company officials.

"These conventions have become the Super Bowls of influence- peddling in America every four years,'' said Charles Lewis, director of the Center for Public Integrity, a Washington group that investigates public policy issues. "This is basically a deregulated zone in American politics where all rules go out the window.'' -- Donation Laws Go `Out the Window' at U.S. Conventions (Bloomberg.com)