The contrast in the two Philadelphia conventions, despite being 16 years apart, has frustrated David L. Cohen, Comcast senior executive vice president. He was chairman of the 2000 convention host committee and special adviser for the 2016 host committee.

"We told our people if we did a good job there would be deferred compensation, and we did a great job," Rendell said in defense of the 2016 bonuses. He added that personnel expenses in 2000 were lower because they used a lot of consultants.

State Republicans have said that without the $10 million state grant, the committee -- a state-registered nonprofit -- wouldn't have had a surplus. They have criticized the committee's use of surplus money and called for a hearing and an audit

The 2000 Philadelphia Host Committee paid its executive director, Karen Dougherty Buchholz, an annual salary between $120,000 and $150,000, Cohen said. Federal Election Commission reports show that Buchholz was paid a total of $305,000 between August 1998 and September 2000. Adjusted for inflation, she would have been paid $431,596 in today’s dollars for the two-year effort. (By comparison, Washo was paid a total of $810,000, including a $310,000 bonus for his work with the 2016 committee. Rendell has said that the bonus was part back pay for work Washo did during the bid phase. Washo was vice president of a consulting firm hired to do work during the bid phase.)  

"I think there’s a little difference there," Rendell said, referring to Charlotte. "If there was a deficit, there wouldn't have been deferred compensation" for Philadelphia 2016.