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Influence-Peddling Aplenty at the Democratic Convention – But Differences Between Charlotte and Tampa Are Striking

Sep. 4, 2012


Influence-Peddling Aplenty at the Democratic Convention – But Differences Between Charlotte and Tampa Are Striking

Note: Public Citizen is working with the Sunlight Foundation to watchdog lobbyist-sponsored parties at the Republican and Democratic conventions. See https://www.citizen.org/pressreleases/illegal-convention-parties-not-our-watch for more information.

Contact: Craig Holman (202) 905-7413; Jake Parent 202-588-7779

Make no mistake: There are opportunities galore for lobbyists and special interests to rub elbows with lawmakers at the Democratic convention. Novo Nordisk, the global health care giant, has teamed up with the lobbying group Organization for International Investment for a chance to bend the ear of lawmakers for easing global investment regulations this evening from 5 – 7 p.m. at the Aloft Hotel in Charlotte.

Striking, however, are the differences between the Democratic and Republican conventions. The Democrats have imposed some constraints on special interest funding for the Democratic convention for the first time in any convention’s history – declining direct contributions from corporations and lobbyists, and limiting contributions from others to no more than $100,000. The restrictions have so saddled the Democratic host committee that it created its own nonprofit group, New American City, to accept and spend corporate money on administrative expenses.

Apparently, that is not enough. New American City has brought in some special interest money, but probably less than a third of the cash that was brought in by a similar group at the Republican convention. The Democratic convention has already been scaled back one day due to lack of funds, but the shortfall is so severe that Democratic officials met on Saturday to discuss how else they could scale down expenses – possibly moving Obama’s acceptance speech out of the large outdoor Carolina Panthers’ football stadium back into the Bank of America Arena.

Fundraising by the notorious outside groups is also happening at the Democratic convention, but again at a far lesser scale than we saw in Tampa. At the Republican convention numerous outside groups, from Karl Rove’s Crossroads to David Koch’s Americans for Prosperity to Pro-Romney Restore Our Future held unlimited fundraising events – so exclusive in fact that some reported these activities as a “convention-within-a-convention.” In Charlotte, there is one such joint effort with Pro-Obama’s Priorities USA called Super-O-Rama. The joint fundraising group, called United Convention 2012, will hold a reception tonight from 4-6 p.m. and a concert on Thursday following the close of the convention. But don’t dream of joining in this party unless you have at least $25,000 to spare.

For more information on lobbyist influence-peddling at the national conventions, visit https://www.citizen.org/our-work/government-reform/articles/reporter-background-memo-party-conventions-feature-lobbyist.