Houston shells out millions in fight to host Democratic National Convention

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Millions of your tax dollars are on the line as Houston fights to attract Democrats to town for the party's next national convention.

The Democratic National Committee is widely expected to announce the host city for its 2020 Convention next week. Houston is hoping the DNC will do what many tourists won't and spend a week in Houston next July.



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Houston First, the city's convention and tourism arm, voted Friday morning to approve millions of dollars in grants and loans to entice the DNC to come here.

In a unanimous vote, Houston First's board approved a $1 million grant to the DNC, $1.1 million in local matching funds and a $2.6 million line of credit.

Houston Convention & Visitor's Bureau, a separate (but connected) entity has also pledged $1 million towards the effort. The money only goes to the DNC if the convention is awarded to Houston. Houston First hopes the line of credit will not be spent if convention fundraising meets a $60 million goal.

Houston First already spent $680,000 of your tax money marketing the city to Democrats, including $200,000 funding a trip to town by the DNC selection committee last April.

Houston First is funded mainly by a portion of hotel occupancy taxes paid by people who stay in Houston hotels.

Houston First admits the funds are coming from the agency's "emergency reserve." Houston First had little choice but to say yes. Without the money and line of credit, the DNC would not come.

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