Donald Trump may wind up having a depressing effect on the convention this summer. If I left that sentence hanging out there on its own you could probably fill in all sorts of analysis or jokes about the GOP slug-fest that’s widely expected in Cleveland, but today we’re talking about the Democrats’ big party in Philadelphia. While it may sound counterintuitive, The Hill has been talking to some of the big corporate donors who pour money into these quadrennial shindigs and some of them are sitting on their cash because of the Manhattan real estate mogul.
Corporations are considering sitting out the Democratic National Convention this summer for fear of looking partisan if they decide to skip the GOP’s event because of Donald Trump.
Major companies that have budgeted money for the quadrennial events are sitting on their cash and weighing their options, with just over three months to go until the Republican convention in Cleveland and the Democratic one in Philadelphia.
“Corporations don’t want their name or brand near Trump, and if they don’t participate in Cleveland, that means they can’t play ball at the Democratic convention. They have to do both or nothing,” said a person planning events at both conventions.
“People who have typically been a part in a big way are just saying no,” the person added. “They’re sitting this one out.”
The corporate donor question is always a sticky one. Contributions to candidates by corporations are verboten by law (at least “officially” on the books, anyway) but they can and do take part in some of the sideshow events and the conventions are big ticket items on that list. But in order to avoid a huge hit to their customer base, the majority of companies tend to contribute to both parties just to cover their bets. If word gets out that a company is only supporting one side or the other in this nation’s bitterly divided environment they could quickly come under the threat of a boycott and an avalanche of bad press from half of their potential customers.
The assumption here is that the nation is listening closely to the media portrayals of Donald Trump as being a racist, Islamophobic member of the He Man Woman Hater’s Club and the big potential donors don’t want their names or their money associated with him. But due to the above noted rule of thumb, if they don’t pay part of the tab for the GOP in Cleveland they will hesitate to pour any cash into Hillary’s party in Philadelphia either.
That’s a serious pain in the wallet for both parties. As The Hill reminds us, these gatherings are not cheap in any way, shape or form.
In 2012, the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C., cost $66 million, which included a $10 million loan from Duke Energy, whose CEO sat on the host committee. The company ultimately wrote off the loan. Republicans spent $74 million on their 2012 convention in Tampa, Fla.
These corporate participation efforts are a regular feature at the conventions most of the time. I was at the 2012 party in Tampa and we ran into quite a few advertisers who were handing out promotional goodies and swag. (I’m going to miss Cleveland this year because I’ll be in Philly watching the Democrats.) The expenses are huge and host cities don’t really get as much of an economic infusion out of them as people tend to expect. Much of that has to do with the massive security protocols, setting up a virtual “green zone” around the convention center which is such a pain to get in and out of that most attendees are reluctant to leave except to go back to the hotel at night to sleep.
Will this wind up impacting the two conventions very much? Doubtful, in my opinion. The parties always seem to come up with the money somewhere and I suspect it won’t be any different this time.