Buying of the President

Published — September 27, 2016

Democratic convention committee obliterated fundraising goal

Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton gives her thumbs up as she appears on stage during the final day of the Democratic National Convention on July 28, 2016, in Philadelphia. Carolyn Kaster/AP

New filing shows Comcast, unions, wealthy liberals among most generous donors


The Democratic National Convention host committee blew past its fundraising goal and raked in about $75 million in contributions to bankroll Hillary Clinton’s presidential nomination party in Philadelphia, according to a new federal filing.

That’s roughly $10 million more than Republicans raised for their national convention in Cleveland.

Big donors to the Democrats included many corporations and individuals with Philadelphia ties. Some of the biggest include:

  • Comcast Corp., which is based in Philadelphia and gave $5.6 million in cash and in-kind contributions
  • Independence Blue Cross, $1.5 million
  • Venture capitalist and Hyatt hotel heir J.B. Pritzker, $1.25 million
  • Media entrepreneur H.F. Lenfest, $1 million

Labor unions also contributed millions of dollars, with seven-figure sums coming from the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers and the International Union of Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers.

Some companies that supported the Democratic National Convention — including Chevron, Facebook, Twitter, accounting firm KPMG, Morgan Stanley and Xerox — also supported the Republican National Convention.

The Democratic host committee set a $60 million fundraising goal for cash and in-kind contributions.

“This is an enormously successful convention from any perspective,” former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell, who served as chairman of the effort, said on a conference call Tuesday. “It raised the visibility of the city in an extraordinary way. Now we can say we’ve successfully concluded our fundraising efforts.”

Rendell added that the Democratic host committee has enough money left to settle all outstanding bills and pay back the remainder of a loan by the end of the year. The convention was the first Democratic convention in more than three decades to produce a small surplus rather than a deficit, he said.

The Democratic host committee’s disclosure report, filed with the Federal Election Commission late Monday, came exactly 60 days after the close of the Democratic National Convention.

Federal law allows convention host committees, which are nonprofits, to keep their fundraising and spending information secret until then.

The Republican host committee last week reported raising roughly $65.8 million — enough to meet its stated pre-convention fundraising goal.

Earlier this year, the Democratic host committee publicly confirmed the Internal Revenue Service had turned down its bid for tax-exempt status, something typically routinely granted to convention host committees.

Without the deduction, individual donors would be unable to claim tax deductions in exchange for their contributions. The committee encouraged donors concerned about the deduction to contribute to the Philadelphia Convention and Visitors Bureau, which could in turn issue grants to the host committee.

The Democratic host committee’s report reflected $4.4 million worth of income from the Philadelphia Convention and Visitors Bureau. Rendell confirmed that money was passed through from donors who wanted to be certain of receiving a deduction, and the money was required to be used for hospitality events to promote the city.

Companies and others who didn’t want to contribute to the host committee found other ways to participate, sponsoring parties or delegations, and hosting private events.

In addition to the contributions raised by the host committees, the Republican and Democratic parties have raised millions of dollars through special party accounts created two years ago by Congress two years ago.

Such funds were designed to replace public funding of national political conventions, and the parties disclose these contributions monthly.

Read more in Money and Democracy

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