Barack Obama insists that corporations and lobbyists will have nothing to do with funding the Democratic National Convention, a requirement that has put convention organizers into an $20-million hole. They recently tried to get unions to fill the gap, but apparently didn’t get much response from their sales pitch. On Thursday, the co-chair of the convention told Politico that he’s certain the unions will write the big check … eventually:
“My belief is they will support us,” Rogers told POLITICO on Thursday. “I think the issue is not whether. I think the question is how much. And I hope that they step up and give us the same level of support which they did in the Denver convention.”
Democrats are about $20 million short of their $36.6 million fundraising goal for the convention in large part because of labor groups sitting on the sidelines, The Wall Street Journal reported last week. Unions gave about $8 million to support the 2008 DNC, but they’ve largely balked over Charlotte because North Carolina is a right-to-work state.
But Rogers, the CEO of Charlotte-based Duke Energy, said labor groups would be hurting themselves if they remained on the sidelines.
“For them to take a powder on the convention because it’s a right-to-work state is kind of sending a message that we’re really not interested in the unionization of people in right-to-work states,” he said. “And if that’s a signal they’d want to send, I don’t think that’s in their best interest because more and more states are moving to be right-to-work states.”
Actually, what it says is that unions don’t want to drop millions of dollars supporting cities and states with right-to-work laws. If unions want to try organizing in Charlotte, they can do that directly and not put money into the hands of non-union shops. That’s only one of the curious points of the DNC’s decision to stage the convention in North Carolina, a move that’s starting to look like a huge mistake, especially after over 20% of North Carolina Democrats refused to vote for Obama in the primary despite having no opponent in the race. Almost 200,000 specifically chose “no preference” over Obama.
Rogers might still believe that unions will contribute, but he also apparently has a back-up plan. Politico reports this morning that the publisher of the “official” convention magazine has hit up the American League of Lobbyists to buy some advertising, despite the supposed ban on their participation in the event:
A publisher promoting an “official” national convention magazine for Democratic National Committee, which rejects political contributions from registered lobbyists, has asked theAmerican League of Lobbyists in an email and phone call to purchase an advertisement in its national convention magazine, the League confirms to PI. The ad ( http://bit.ly/K2r8Tk) for the “2012 Democratic National Convention Official Magazine,” being produced by the Connecticut-based H.O. Zimman Inc. publishing house, would cost between $15,000 and $25,000 depending on size. …
A representative from H.O. Zimman could not be reached for comment Friday. But in an email (http://bit.ly/K7cf6s) this week to the league, a company representative writes that the league “may be interested in visibility to this powerful audience … the publication will have very limited advertising.”
So far, the response to this sales pitch more or less matches the response from the unions … pound sand. Howard Marlowe tells Politico that the league doesn’t have the money for that kind of advertising, but if it did, he’d buy one that tells Obama to “stop bashing lobbyists.” Or at the very least, stop bashing lobbyists while issuing a snowstorm of waivers to hire them and finding backdoor ways to beg for money from them.
Meanwhile, the pledge against corporate money looks expired as well:
Democrats have trumpeted their ban on corporate donations to their national convention this summer, saying that it shows they are free from the influence of special interests.
But through a special fund, convention planners are accepting millions of dollars in corporate contributions to help pay for many of the activities outside the convention hall—as well as some expenses directly related to the event. Donors include Wells Fargo & Co., Bank of America Corp.and Duke Energy Corp., all significant employers in Charlotte, N.C., where the convention will be held in early September.
The fund, called New American City Inc., plans to raise more than $10 million to cover convention expenses, including salaries for convention workers, promotional materials and overhead. Costs also include entertainment for delegates and others, such as a welcoming party for the media that will feature celebrity performers and as many as 10,000 guests.
The new “evolution” from the DNC is that none of this money will go toward the formal nominating process, which consists of spending an hour or so polling the state delegations, or for Obama’s speech at, er, Bank of America Stadium on the last day of the convention.