Officially, it’s free for delegates to go to the Democratic National Convention.
But you know the old adage: There’s no such thing as a free lunch.
The 4,700-plus delegates who will descend on Philadelphia for the DNC in July must cover their own expenses. So besides, literally, paying for lunch, they’ll have to cough up cash to cover airfare or other transportation costs, hotels, meals and related trip expenses that some Democratic party officials warned could top $4,000.
“That’s nutty expensive!” said delegate Dan O’Neal, a retired teacher from Arizona.
Many have turned to the internet for help. There are about 500 fund-raising appeals on GoFundMe – mostly by Bernie Sanders supporters – from DNC delegates looking to raise anywhere from $700 to $6,000.
Some delegates have gotten quite creative in their pecuniary pitches, offering rewards for donations. Here’s what some are offering:
Frustration relief. Michelle Diamond probably wins the rewards race. The Wyoming delegate is offering a homemade Trump pinata for anyone who gives her $250 or more. Don’t feel like bashing Trump? Then for $30, donors will get a Wyoming bison t-shirt. For $5, a shot at a $100 gift card. She’s raised $195 toward her $1,500 goal.
Celebrity photos. Sure, Connor Berdy of Michigan will send you a thank-you note. But the Sanders supporter, who’s a junior at Michigan State University, will also “hunt down and get a picture (of) any elected official or celebrity at the convention, of your request.” He’s raised $575 toward his $2,000 goal.
An online quiz. Chris Riker and Kira Willig, Sanders delegates from Miami, aren’t offering tangible rewards for donations. Instead, they wrote a “Have you ever…?” quiz, urging donors to give a dollar for every yes answer. Sample questions: “Have you ever … Eaten more than 1 Krispy Kreme donut at a time? Thought about becoming an Uber driver? Played pull my finger? Peed in the pool?” That strategy has earned them $664 toward their $5,260 goal.
A political education. Kristen Demeter, a delegate from Cincinnati, Ohio, vowed to create a blog that will explain the voting process, details about delegates and “behind-the-scenes videos and photos, and more!!” Demeter has raised $195 toward her goal of $2,000 to cover the “costs of being in a strange city for a week.” (Strange? Who is she calling strange? Cincinnati puts chili on its spaghetti!)
Fulfilling dreams. “Visiting Philadelphia has always been on my bucket list, because Ben Franklin is my 8th great uncle, and I’ve never been,” wrote Iowa delegate Kate Larson, a Sanders supporter who has raised $172 toward her $3,500.
All business. O’Neal, the Arizona delegate, will not do tricks for your money. “No wearing silly hats and picture taking with celebrities,” wrote O’Neal, who has raised $392, a fifth of his $2,000 goal. “I will be networking with others from around the country to build the Bernie Movement and organize to take the Revolution both Inside and Outside the Democratic Party.”