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August 4, 2008

Michigan, Florida: Obama asks for full convention votes

The New York Times reports: Senator Barack Obama has asked the credentials committee of the Democratic Party to give full voting rights to delegates from Florida and Michigan at the national convention in Denver. ...

After Florida and Michigan held early primaries in violation of party rules, the party punished them by saying their delegations would not be seated at the convention. In May, the rules committee agreed to let the delegates have half a vote each. -- Obama Asks Panel to Restore Votes to Florida and Michigan Delegates - NYTimes.com

August 1, 2008

Dem Convention: judge hears arguments on free speech vs. security

The New York Times reports: A federal trial in a lawsuit seeking to ease strict security provisions at the Democratic National Convention ended Thursday with repeated questions from the judge about how the rules impinge on free speech, as the groups behind the lawsuit have charged.

The judge, Marcia S. Krieger, also questioned a lawyer for one of the groups, Steven D. Zansberg of the American Civil Liberties Union, about what precisely the court might do to correct the problem with the convention only a few weeks away.

The lawsuit, filed by the A.C.L.U. and a coalition of protest groups led by an organization formed here about 18 months ago, Recreate 68, says security concerns for the three-day convention beginning Aug. 25 are exaggerated. It says alternatives exist that would allow protesters and the public to get closer — within “sight and sound” — to the convention hall.

Judge Krieger repeatedly interrupted Mr. Zansberg during his closing argument in the two-day trial, seeking clarification about what the groups were seeking. -- Judge to Rule on Limits at Denver Convention - NYTimes.com

June 7, 2008

Lobbyist money welcomed at party conventions

The New York Times reports: One of Senator Barack Obama’s first acts after claiming the Democratic nomination was declaring he would not take special-interest money for his presidential bid, even going so far as to bar lobbyists from donating to the Democratic National Committee.

But there is one important area where special-interest money is flowing into the Democratic campaign effort — the millions of dollars being raised from corporations to finance the party’s convention in Denver.

Elected Democratic officials have been calling on corporations — meeting with Wall Street executives and flying to San Diego, Philadelphia and Las Vegas — to raise the $40 million the party has budgeted for the convention, in August. In return, these Democratic officials are promising corporate donors “sponsor benefits packages” that include private sessions with federal officeholders and other influential party leaders.

This search for cash comes as national party committees, like the D.N.C., are barred from soliciting or spending soft money, the unrestricted donations to political parties. But there is one major exception to these limits: the unlimited contributions from corporations and unions for the party’s convention. Even more, donations for the conventions, unlike other campaign contributions, are fully tax-deductible to corporations as a business expense. -- Candidates Forgo Soft Money; Conventions Don’t

June 1, 2008

Florida, Michigan: 1/2 vote to each delegate

The New York Times reports: To jeers and boos that showcased deep party divisions, Democratic Party officials agreed Saturday to seat delegates from the disputed Florida and Michigan primaries at the party’s convention in August but give them only half a vote each, dealing a setback to Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton.

The agreement, reached by the rules committee of the Democratic National Committee behind closed doors and voted on publicly before a raucous audience of supporters of the two candidates, would give Mrs. Clinton a net gain of 24 delegates over Senator Barack Obama. But this fell far short of her hopes of winning the full votes of both delegations and moved the nomination further out of her reach.

She now lags behind Mr. Obama by about 176 delegates, according to The New York Times’s tally, in the final weekend of campaigning before the nominating contests end.

Mrs. Clinton, who led the voting in the Michigan and Florida contests, which were held in defiance of party rules, picked up 19 delegates more than Mr. Obama in Florida and 5 delegates more than Mr. Obama in Michigan.

The deal prompted one of her chief advisers, Harold Ickes, a member of the rules committee himself, to declare that Mrs. Clinton’s fight may not be over, even though Mr. Obama’s advisers say he is only days away from gaining enough delegates to claim the nomination. -- Democrats Approve Deal on Michigan and Florida - NYTimes.com

May 27, 2008

Bloggers complain about lack of diversity in blogger corps selected for Demo Convention

The Washington Post reports: With the Democratic National Convention less than three months away, and with Web pundits playing an even bigger role during the four-day event, a whole other drama is chewing up the blogosphere -- and the often unmentioned Afrosphere. ...

The protracted primary has been like a bottomless glass to thirsty national and local bloggers -- so much to blog about! -- and about 400 of them have applied to attend the convention. Although four years ago the credentialing of 30 bloggers in a single pool was a historic event, this August there are two blogger pools: a State Blogger Corps and a General Blogger Pool.

The State Corps is considered the more elite; its 55 bloggers will have floor access all four days, sit next to their state delegations and be hooked up to the Internet. Those not chosen for the State Corps are competing for spots in the General Pool, which will have rotating floor access. The State Corps list was announced nearly two weeks ago; the General Pool list, DNC officials say, will be released this week. ...

But, to the frustration of black bloggers, the list appears to be mostly white -- during a primary race in which black voters turned out in droves in Georgia, South Carolina and Mississippi. And, they add, this pool is for coverage of a convention that might very well see the first African American presidential nominee. -- Democrats' Convention Pool: Is It All Wet? - washingtonpost.com

May 26, 2008

Florida: new suit against DNC over seating delegates

The Miami Herald reports: Florida s history of discrimination against African Americans should force the national Democratic Party to count all of the state s delegates at its national convention, a federal lawsuit filed Thursday claims.

The suit, filed by state Senate Democratic Leader Steve Geller and two other Democrats, claims that the federal Voting Rights Act prohibits the national party from stripping the state of its convention delegates as punishment for violating party rules by holding its primary too early.

The civil-rights-era law requires the U.S. Justice Department to approve any significant voting change in Florida to make sure it doesn t disenfranchise minority voters. Geller argues that includes the Democratic National Committee s demand that Florida switch from a state-run primary to party-run caucus system to avoid losing its delegates. ...

Federal courts have thrown out two previous challenges to the DNC s rule. In December, a federal judge in Tallahassee rejected a lawsuit by Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson that claimed the punishment would disenfranchise Florida voters, and in March an Atlanta court dismissed the case of a Tampa political activist claiming that the DNC was treating Florida unfairly. -- Democrats file suit to seat Florida delegates - 05/23/2008 - MiamiHerald.com

Note: The complaint can be viewed here: Geller v. Democratic National Committee.

May 21, 2008

Puerto Rico has more delegates than Alabama??

Mooncat writes on Left in Alabama: Puerto Rico gets 63 delegates to the Democratic Convention and Alabama only gets 60! What is up with that? We're a state, we're bigger, we have better football teams and they still get three delegates more than us? We're being robbed. -- Left In Alabama Connecting Progressive Voices in Alabama Politics

Southern regional meeting of superdelegates

I just received an email announcing a "DNC Southern Caucus" meeting on June 19-21 in Mobile, Alabama. One hundred three superdelegates and "regional elected officials" from 13 Southern States will be meeting.

Are similar regional meetings being held in other places?

May 11, 2008

A quick in-and-out as GOP convention chief

The New York Times reports: The public relations executive whom Senator John McCain’s campaign had chosen to run the Republican National Convention this summer resigned his post on Saturday after a magazine reported that his firm had lobbied for the military junta that runs Myanmar.

The executive, Doug Goodyear, said in a statement that he was stepping down as the coordinator of the convention, which will be held Sept. 1-4 in Minneapolis-St. Paul, “so as not to become a distraction in this campaign.”

“I continue to strongly support John McCain for president and wish him the best of luck in this campaign,” the two-sentence statement concluded.

Mr. Goodyear is the chief executive and a founding partner of the DCI Group, which has offices in Washington and Phoenix. He offered his resignation after Newsweek reported that his firm had been paid $348,000 in 2002 to represent the junta.

The rulers of Myanmar, formerly known as Burma, have been widely condemned for stymieing relief efforts after a cyclone ravaged the country’s coastal areas on May 3, killing thousands. The United States has denounced the Burmese government as one of the world’s most repressive, and Mr. McCain, Republican of Arizona, has long been critical of the government as well. During the campaign, he has called for Myanmar’s leaders to halt human rights abuses. -- Official Chosen by McCain to Run Convention Resigns

May 4, 2008

The "Nuclear Option" at the Democratic Convention

Tom Edsall writes on the Huffington Post: Hillary Clinton s campaign has a secret weapon to build its delegate count, but her top strategists say privately that any attempt to deploy it would require a sharp and by no means inevitable shift in the political climate within Democratic circles by the end of this month.

With at least 50 percent of the Democratic Party s 30-member Rules and Bylaws Committee committed to Clinton, her backers could -- when the committee meets at the end of this month -- try to ram through a decision to seat the disputed 210-member Florida and 156-member Michigan delegations. Such a decision would give Clinton an estimated 55 or more delegates than Obama, according to Clinton campaign operatives. The Obama campaign has declined to give an estimate. -- Clinton Camp Considering Nuclear Option To Overtake Delegate Lead - Politics on The Huffington Post

Comment: The only reason to float this scenario now is to send a Nixonian message to Obama's would-be supporters that HRC is willing to destroy the Party in order to get her way. By projecting this power now, she hopes to sway waverers away from Obama.

May 3, 2008

Colorado: slow preparations for convention security prompts suit by ACLU

The New York Times reports: Groups planning parades or protests at the Democratic National Convention filed a lawsuit here on Friday charging that the Secret Service and the City of Denver are threatening free speech — not because of tight security rules, but by the very lack of them.

The suit, filed in Federal District Court, says that delays in establishing legal parade routes, and unanswered questions about security arrangements around the convention center, are undermining efforts to plan for events when Democrats gather here from Aug. 25 to 28.

Mark Silverstein, legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Colorado, which is representing 12 groups in the lawsuit, said they had no choice but to turn to the court. With just four months until the convention, the groups want a judge to speed the scheduling and the issuing of rules governing activities outside the Pepsi Center.

At the Democratic convention in Boston in 2004, First Amendment challenges could not be addressed by judges, Mr. Silverstein said, because security measures were announced too late. -- Convention Preparations Prompt Suit by A.C.L.U. - New York Times

February 7, 2008

Super-delegates probably will decide the nomination

Marty Lederman writes on Balkinization: According to the Obama campaign, he won 845 of the 1671 pledged delegates last night, to Senator Clinton's 836. This appears to be roughly consistent, give or take a few delegates, with others' estimates, as well -- see here and here. When added to his previous 63-48 lead, that would give Obama a 908 to 884 lead in pledged delegates. (The Obama campaign's estimate of his own pick-ups might even be a bit short -- he might have won four more delegates than he assumed in California, according to this calculation. There are also seven more delegates to be chosen from Democrats abroad who voted yesterday.)

Only 1428 pledged delegates are still to be chosen in the remaining primaries and caucuses. Thus, in order to enter the convention with a majority (2025 delegates), Senator Obama would need to win 1117 of those remaining delegates, or over 78 percent. Senator Clinton would need to win 1141 delegates, or 80 percent. Obviously, neither of the candidates is going to secure anywhere close to a majority before the August convention. It is more likely that each will end up with between 1500 and 1700 pledged delegates, i.e., at least 300 delegates short of what they need to win.

Therefore, the Democratic nomination will be decided by the 796 "superdelegates." They include all Democratic members of the Congress, Democratic governors, various other elected officials, and the members of the Democratic National Committee.

Just over 300 of the superdelegates have already announced who they intend to support, and Senator Clinton is ahead by about 90 such delegates in most counts. (Here is one list of those who have already announced their endorsement.) Most of those delegates presumably will stick by their announcements, but they are not bound to do so. -- Balkinization: It's a Tie -- Enter the Superdelegates

August 8, 2004

Bringing new meaning to "pay to play"

The New York Times reports: Lunch at the Plaza Hotel. Dinner at Le Cirque. Cocktails at the New York Stock Exchange. That's the least the Republican Party could do to welcome its top fund-raisers to the convention in New York this month. Right?

Yes, but there's just one catch. They have to pay for it.

These supporters - some of whom have raised $200,000 or more for President Bush or the party - are being charged a "convention fee'' this year of up to $4,500 per person for themselves and each guest, according to a Web page run by LogiCom Project Management, the company handling the events and travel arrangements.

That's just for starters. The fund-raisers will also pay for airfare, several nights in a hotel and optional events they might choose - like a fashion show at Barneys or the U.S. Open tennis tournament. The result is that a couple could easily run up a tab of well over $10,000. ...

Republican officials say the fees have risen this year - they topped out at $1,750 in 2000 - because of the new McCain-Feingold campaign finance law, which eliminated the unlimited so-called soft money contributions that used to make up a large part of the party's finances and were traditionally used to pay for convention events. Now operating on a leaner budget, the Republican Party chose to pass the costs on to those attending the convention rather than spend cash that could be used to support President Bush in the election. -- Republican Donors Paying to Play at the Convention (New York Times)

July 7, 2004

CFI study on convention financing

The Campaign Finance Institute says: In the first election cycle after soft money contributions to national political parties were banned, convention city "host committees" are raising at least $103.5 million in unlimited private donations for the party nominating conventions - twelve times what they raised for the 1992 conventions - with much of it coming from traditional soft money sources.

This finding is the starting point for a major new study co-authored by the Campaign Finance Institute's Steve Weissman and Ruth Hassan, "The $100 Million Exemption: Soft Money and the 2004 National Party Conventions." The study challenges the assumptions that underlie the Federal Election Commission's exemption of political convention host committees from restrictions in federal campaign finance law.

New research findings show that this money - contrary to the FEC's rationale - does not flow only from the apolitical civic or commercial motives of host city givers. A significant portion of the fundraisers and donors are major political players who are making substantial political contributions to parties and candidates. -- Press release of Campaign Finance Institute

May 27, 2004

NPR's history lesson on acceptance of the nomination

Until Franklin Delano Roosevelt's first nomination as the Democratic candidate in 1932, no candidates attended their parties' conventions, and they waited weeks before getting the news and accepting. So John Kerry's consideration of the idea of not formally accept his party's nomination at the convention would be a throwback, not a precedent. Producer John McDonough has a report. -- NPR : History of Delaying Acceptance of Nomination

May 26, 2004

Kerry will accept nomination at the convention -- no delay

Sen. John F. Kerry (Mass.) announced today that he will formally accept the Democratic presidential nomination at his party's convention in Boston this summer, jettisoning the idea of delaying acceptance to try to narrow a perceived fundraising gap with President Bush.

Less than a week after the unorthodox idea became public -- to decidedly mixed reviews -- Kerry buried consideration of the plan as his campaign weighed other options for the continuation of what has been a record-breaking period of fundraising by a Democratic presidential candidate.

Although many Kerry loyalists lined up behind the idea, other Democrats expressed fears that it would create a controversy that might have dominated the convention and led to diminished coverage, particularly by the major broadcast television networks. -- Kerry to Accept Nomination at Democratic Convention (washingtonpost.com)

May 25, 2004

A GOP group may have to register as a charity in New York

A tax-exempt organization associated with the chairman of the United States House Committee on Financial Services may have to register with the New York State attorney general's office before it can stage a party during the Republican National Convention in New York, state officials said.

The organization, called the American Council for Excellence and Opportunity, had solicited donations from various businesses, including Wall Street firms, for a convention night party at the Rainbow Room in honor of the committee chairman, Representative Michael G. Oxley of Ohio, and other members of the committee. Mr. Oxley is also honorary chairman of the council.

The Charities Bureau of the state attorney general's office sent a letter to the council on Friday that said the organization might have to register with the bureau - and then meet New York's disclosure requirements, which include making public exactly how the money it raised was spent, including staff salaries. -- Organization Tied to G.O.P. Gets Warning on Donations (New York Times)

"A return to tradition"

Politics1 has more historical details on the dealyed nomination point I raised over the weekend.

Until [1940], the convention was held and concluded without ever hearing from the person who won the nomination. The big tradition back then was a huge "Notification Day" rally in the nominee's hometown with parades and marching bands. The party's national leaders would arrive for the event -- usually held a few weeks post-convention -- and "officially" notify the person that they won the nomination. Only then would the nominee give an acceptance speech. The vintage picture at right is from William Howard Taft's Notification Day festivities in his hometown of Cincinnati, Ohio in September 1908. Think of the Kerry move -- if it even happens -- as "a return to tradition."

Look for the item headed "A History Lesson" on 05.25.04.

May 23, 2004

NPR interview on the "delayed nomination" trial balloon

NPR's Scott Simon talks with Dan Payne, a Democratic media consultant and a former Kerry Senate strategist, about the possibility that John Kerry might try and delay accepting his party's nomination this summer in order to try and circumvent federal campaign finance restrictions. -- NPR : Kerry Strategy (requires RealAudio)

May 22, 2004

More news and thoughts on delaying the "nomination" of Kerry

I have thought about the proposal to delay Kerry's acceptance of the nomination to delay the point at which the general election begins -- and Kerry must stop spending privately raised money and use public funds. The Republicans are already complaining about this ploy turning the nominating convention into a multi-day political rally at public expense. Instead, I suggest that Kerry be nominated at the convention but his formal acceptance would be later. Or the nomination and acceptance could become effective on 1 September.

Democratic Party officials and lawyers said they see no significant legal bar to postponing the formal designation of their presidential nominee. Donald L. Fowler, former Democratic National Committee chairman, said that the national convention is the ultimate authority for party rules and that an "appropriately drawn resolution" could be approved at the July convention that sets out what constitutes formal acceptance of the nomination.

"I don't think it's a big legal thing," Fowler said. "The convention can do what it wants."

Another lawyer working with the party said, "This is a decision the party makes and it makes it pursuant to its own rules," adding that there are no other regulatory or statutory limitations.

Democratic officials said they are exploring a number of possibilities. One would be to reconvene the delegates to the convention, although trying to physically reconvene them appears unlikely. Instead, officials said, there is talk of convening through the Internet or through a conference call.

Fowler said the convention could give authority to the national committee, which could convene around Sept. 1 and designate Kerry as the nominee. In 1972, when presidential nominee George McGovern had to dump his vice presidential nominee, Sen. Thomas F. Eagleton (Mo.), the DNC convened to pick R. Sargent Shriver as his replacement. -- Kerry Ponders Delay in Party Nod (washingtonpost.com)

Stephanie Cutter, Mr. Kerry's spokeswoman, said a delay in the nomination was "not a fait accompli," and said the campaign was also discussing a second option: encouraging Democrats and supporters of Mr. Kerry to steer their contributions to the Democratic National Committee and to state party committees to buoy the campaign during the five-week gap between the conventions.

"We will find a way to level the playing field," Ms. Cutter said. "It very well may not be this option. But given the amount of money we've raised — $89 million over 80 days since Super Tuesday, the average donation is $200 — there's significant support out there, but we've only begun to see that support, and it can only improve from here. And we've got to find a way to continue to tap that momentum in those five weeks." -- Kerry Considers Strategic Delay for Democratic Nomination (New York Times)

During the 19th Century, it was not uncommon for the eventual nominee not even to attend the convention. Then, as now, the convention appointed a small group to take the word of the nomination to the candidate. Then, the candidate might be a day or two away by train. Now, he or she is in a nearby hotel. (The first major party candidate to accept the nomination in person by addressing the convention was Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1932.)

May 21, 2004

Will this move by Kerry be seen as too cute, or will the public care?

Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry may delay accepting his party's nomination to gain time to raise and spend private contributions and lessen President Bush's multimillion-dollar financial advantage, campaign officials said Friday.

The proposal would let Kerry hold off on spending his $75 million general-election budget for an extra month. The Democratic Party would still stage its national convention in Boston at the end of July, five weeks before the Republican National Convention in New York.

Kerry and Bush both are expected to accept $75 million in full federal funding for their general election campaigns. Once nominated, the candidates will be limited to spending the government money and can no longer raise or spend private contributions on the campaign. ...

A Democratic official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said one possibility would be to change the rules so the nomination takes place Sept. 1. Kerry could give a convention speech that stops short of accepting the nomination, and the convention could be recessed until Sept. 1, when delegates could vote by Internet or proxy. -- Kerry considers delaying nomination vote to extend fund-raising time (AP via sfgate.com)

May 20, 2004

Charity cancels GOP convention event

A charity associated with Representative Tom DeLay of Texas, the House majority leader, has canceled plans to stage a series of gala events around the Republican National Convention in New York this summer, saying the city is too expensive.

Aides also suggested that Mr. DeLay, a lightning rod for criticism, was trying to lower his profile. "We are very cognizant of the fact that the convention is about re-electing George Bush and not being a distraction to that goal is a large priority of the majority leader," said Stuart Roy, Mr. DeLay's director of communications. -- Charity Tied to DeLay Cancels New York Convention Events Citing Cost (New York Times)

May 9, 2004

Dems to drop charity event in Boston

Sen. Blanche Lincoln, D-Ark., has pulled the plug on a July 28 fund-raiser for the Democratic National Convention in Boston. The event was supposed to raise money for the National Childhood Cancer Foundation, but it was criticized by campaign finance watchdog groups because it had a corporate sponsor and used members of Congress as drawing cards. Lincoln said she didn't want the event compared to the much-criticized charity fund-raiser Rep. Tom DeLay, R-Texas, has organized during the Republican convention in August in New York City. DeLay set up his own charity, and $500,000 donors will get a package of rewards, including Broadway tickets, a yacht cruise and a private meal with the House majority leader. AFLAC, an insurance company based in Georgia, was organizing the Boston event, had put in $100,000 in seed money and was soliciting corporate donors to do the same before it was canceled. The company said a similar event it planned in New York will go on as scheduled. -- ON THE HILL: News from the Louisiana delegation in the nation's capital (New Orleans Times-Picayune)

April 27, 2004

When "political" and "party" mean something entirely different

A couple of stories on how to party with the pols.

Under new campaign-finance rules, big donors can no longer spend lavish sums to entertain politicians at the parties' national conventions. But that won't stop the partying this year.

House majority leader Tom DeLay has set up a tax-exempt charity called Celebrations for Children, which will raise hundreds of thousands of dollars from top donors at the Republican Convention in New York City by offering them yacht cruises, tickets to Broadway shows and the chance to mingle with Republican lawmakers at parties. -- Support a worthy cause and meet a senator (Time via CNN.com)

Public watchdog groups have criticized Republicans for using a charitable group to help host lavish parties at this summer's presidential nominating convention, but Democrats are now employing the same strategy.

Democrats are inviting corporations to contribute up to $100,000 to attend the "Rockin' on the Dock of the Bay" party in Boston on July 28, the night before Sen. John F. Kerry (Mass.) is to be nominated to challenge President Bush. The event's official beneficiary is the National Childhood Cancer Foundation's "CureSearch" program, but the trappings are overtly political. -- Charity-Hosted Revelry Not Just for Republicans (washingtonpost.com)

January 5, 2004

Democratic Delegate Selection Plans

Rob Richie asked if I had links to Democratic Party delegate selection plans showing the use of proportional representation. Here's what I have found so far:

A summary of the national rules on the allocation of delegates to the states (found for some reason on the website of Mr. Carmel High School)

a CBS News summary

Alabama

Florida

Hawai'i

New Jersey

North Dakota

Ohio

Oklahoma

Texas

Wisconsin

If you have links to some more, let me know.

August 12, 2003

Public Financing Rules published

The FEC has published in the Federal Register the final rules on public financing of presidential candidates and nominating conventions.

July 24, 2003

Soft money still OK for conventions

AP reports:

Federal election regulators decided Thursday to allow corporations and unions to continue making large contributions to finance the two political parties' presidential nominating conventions despite a new law outlawing such donations in elections.

The Federal Election Commission unanimously ruled that the law passed by Congress last year did not apply to fund raising by the local committees in the host cities that help the parties stage the nominating conventions.

June 2, 2003

FEC hearing on Presidential public financing

The FEC has a News Release on the schedule for the 6 June public hearing on Presidential public financing. The Commission proposed a revised rule regarding payments to presidential campaigns and national party conventions, which you can see here.

Written comments filed are here.

April 2, 2003

FEC and public funding (3)

The Hill reports FEC may dim lights on party conventions. This is an article explaining some of the background to the proposal being considered by the FEC on the use of public financing.

April 1, 2003

FEC to consider amending rules re public financing

The Federal Election Commission staff has proposed new rules regarding the public funding of candidates and nominating conventions. The proposal is 163 pages long (typed). Commissioner Toner has submitted a proposed amendment (but there was a dead link to the document when I checked it a few minutes ago).

Many of the changes are necessitated by the BCRA. For instance, the treatment of salaries to candidates and the question of the status of the municipal committee hosting the nominating convention. Others grow out of problems the Commission has seen with aspects of public financing. In this category are proposals to change "winding down expenses."

An aside here: I wish the FEC would put a table of contents on these voluminous proposals and do a better job of converting the document to PDF.