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Democrats' Fund Taps Corporate Donors for Convention

Common Dreams staff

The Wall Street Journal reports today that Democratic National Committe officials have backed away from a promise not to accept corporate contributions at President Obama's nominating convention in Charlotte, North Carolina this summer.

The WSJ says that before this year, both the Democrats and the Republicans accepted corporate contributions to fund their conventions — with 2/3rds of the 2008 Denver Democratic convention paid for by corporate contributions. Private fundraising for the convention has lagged — and labor unions are refusing to chip in, unhappy over the selection of a convention site in a right-to-work state.

Meanwhile, an online petition by activists is urging the DNC to move its national convention out of North Carolina. It's in reaction to North Carolina voters passing a state constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage on Tuesday.

The petition has more than 37,000 signatures right now.

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The Wall Street Journal reports:

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, [the host committee is] accepting millions of dollars in corporate contributions to help pay for many of the activities outside the convention hall … 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.

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 Democratic National Committee and the convention host committee say no corporate money will be spent on activities related to nominating the president or other events directly connected to the formal nominating process. … Before this year, both political parties accepted corporate funding for their conventions. … Republicans … are accepting unlimited donations from individuals and corporations to fund their gathering this summer in Tampa, Fla. …

Democrats said the ban applies only to the host committee's main fundraising account, which helps stage the nominating process inside the convention hall. The host committee is an umbrella group, legally separate from the Democratic National Committee, that includes officials from the host city and other Democratic insiders. … [T]he fund was established by … Joseph Sandler, a former DNC campaign-finance lawyer who is counsel to the host committee; and Will Miller, who is on the board of the host committee. Anthony Foxx, Charlotte's mayor and the co-chairman of the host committee, is president of the New American City fund.

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