Democratic convention ends in debt, GOP’s in the black

October 18, 2012

Democrats ended their convention more than $8 million in debt on a loan secured by Duke Energy, while Republicans reaped massive donations from corporations and a stable of major conservative donors, new federal filings show.

The Charlotte 2012 host committee, organized by city officials, will get stuck with the responsibility for paying the debt. The Democratic Party and the Obama campaign will not tap any of the nearly $1 billion they’ve raised for the 2012 election to help, a spokeswoman for the Democratic National Committee said.

Republicans ended their convention in the black after getting help from major corporations, including $3.1 million from AT&T, $3 million from Cisco Systems and $2 million from oil companies through the American Petroleum Institute. Major Republican donors also contributed giant checks, including $5 million from casino magnate Sheldon Adelson and $1 million each from financial titans Robert Mercer, Paul Singer and the firm of John Paulson. Billionaire David Koch, owner of the Kansas-based Koch Industries petrochemicals conglomerate, also gave $1 million to the 2012 Tampa Bay Host Committee.

Democrats raised millions of in kind donations from corporations, and tapped direct corporate contributions for another fund for throwing events around the convention. Duke Energy, in addition to securing the line of credit, donated $5.7 million in direct contributions, office space and other gifts.

DreamWorks Animation, the company run by major Obama donor Jeffrey Katzenberg, donated $1 million to the New American City effort set up by Charlotte officials.

“We fundamentally changed the way political conventions are done by giving more Americans than ever a voice in our party’s convention,” DNC spokeswoman Melanie Roussell said. “More than 32,000 Americans contributed to the convention, expanding the host committee’s donor base exponentially, up from only 450 donors in Denver.”

The vast majority of Democrats’ funding still came from big donors, however. The host committee and its sister fund raised only $2.2 million from donors giving $10,000 or less, out of $43.1 million total raised. Republicans raised only $294,000 from donors giving $10,000 or less, according to an analysis of their filings.

Both parties received $17.7 million in government money for their nominating conventions as well as a $50 million grant to each city for security.

Many major labor unions donated six figures to Democrats, including $500,000 each from the Service Employes International Union, the United Association and the American Federation of Teachers.

Both parties consumed massive amounts of free alcohol, but Republicans seem to have had the better party in that regard, accepting $180,000 worth of “beverage services” as an in-kind donation from rum maker Bacardi USA. Republicans also accepted $10,000 worth of beer from Anheuser-Busch and $232,000 worth of wine from the Chateau Ste. Michelle winery.

Democrats accepted $6,000 in beer from Miller Coors and $5,000 from the Half Moon Bay Brewing Co. Chiquita Brands gave them $4,000 worth of bananas.

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