In the lead-up to their party’s convention in Charlotte last month, top Democrats vowed to fund their every-four-years gala solely with individual donations. “We will make this the first convention in history that does not accept any funds from lobbyists, corporations, or political action committees,” Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.), the DNC chairwoman, said last year. That pledge, it turns out, was a whole lot of bluster.
New election filings show that the Democratic National Convention benefited from millions in corporate cash. The convention took in at least $5 million in corporate money to rent the Time Warner Cable basketball arena that served as the convention hall. Convention officials also tapped almost $8 million from a line of credit from Duke Energy, a Charlotte-based electricity company with close ties to the Obama administration. The DNC banked a million more in in-kind contributions from corporations such as AT&T, Bank of America, Coca-Cola, Microsoft, and Costco. Labor unions gave nearly $6 million to the convention as well, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.
A separate fund created to support the convention, New American City, also brought in corporate money. Bank of America gave $5 million, Duke Energy contributed $4.1 million, and AT&T chipped in $1 million.
DNC spokeswoman Melanie Roussell told the AP that convention officials broke no laws in raising corporate money. Any fundraising restrictions, Roussell said, were self-imposed by conventional officials. In all, Democrats’ official convention fund raised $24 million to supplement the $18 million provided by taxpayers. New American City raised $19 million.
The GOP had no qualms raising corporate cash, and it ultimately hauled in nearly $56 million for its convention held in Tampa in late August. The RNC’s corporate donors included Archer Daniels Midland, Bacardi, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Chevron, Citigroup, Comcast, CSX Corporation, Duke Energy, Ernst & Young, FedEx, Ford, General Electric, Google, JPMorgan Chase, Lockheed Martin, Walmart, Wells Fargo, and Xerox Corporation. GOP mega-donor Sheldon Adelson chipped in $5 million, while industrialist David Koch and investor John Paulson both gave $1 million.