Adding to the challenges are the restrictions established by top Obama aides prohibiting corporate cash contributions and limiting individual donations to $100,000, making it even harder to raise the money quickly — particularly when wealthy donors are also being asked with increasing aggressiveness to open their wallets to the campaign and the super PAC supporting the president.
“There’s been a frustration that [Rogers] likes the publicity but that he’s not been as good at actually doing the work,” said one person familiar with convention planning. Another person said Charlotte officials had been “counting on Jim Rogers carrying a heavy load raising the money, and that has not happened.”
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“We must define the nature and scope of this struggle, or else it will define us,” the president said.
Democratic officials declined to comment on Rogers’s role.
Suzi Emmerling, a spokeswoman for the Charlotte host committee, said Rogers has “devoted his time and energy” to raise money on behalf of the committee. “He has been a partner since the city of Charlotte bid for the convention, and we appreciate his continued engagement and support.”
Some Democrats said that blaming Rogers is unfair given the self-imposed donation cap and a growing fatigue among party donors. One Democratic strategist close to Duke, requesting anonymity, said of the critics: “Nerves are setting in, and they’re looking for a fall guy.”
The North Carolina utilities commission approved the merger June 29, and Rogers appeared to be preparing to transition to a less-demanding role on the new board that some locals hoped might give him more time to help out with the convention effort.
But almost immediately after the approval — which came after regulators had been assured that Progress chief executive Bill Johnson would lead the combined company — the new board ousted Johnson, gave him a severance deal worth about $44 million and named Rogers the top executive.
People familiar with convention planning said this week that Rogers’s new role as the head of the country’s largest utility and his role in the brewing controversy, were adding to the convention’s money concerns.
Rogers is making some fundraising calls, said one person, “but there’s no doubt that this will distract him even more.” Rogers, silver-haired with a soft, Southern twang, indicated Tuesday that leading the energy company had not necessarily been his intention. He told utility commissioners that he had already had a retirement party and was looking forward to a new life of board service at places such as the Aspen Institute and the Brookings Institution.