Buying of the President

Published — September 20, 2016

Republican host committee rakes in nearly $66 million for party convention

Republican Presidential Candidate Donald Trump pauses to smile as he speaks during the final day of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Thursday, July 21, 2016. (Carolyn Kaster/AP)

Donors include big business, Sheldon Adelson, mysterious LLCs


The Republican convention host committee took in roughly $65.8 million to pay for Donald Trump’s nominating party in Cleveland this summer, despite reports that donors were reluctant to contribute.

The haul surpasses the $64 million in combined cash and in-kind contributions that was the committee’s goal.

“The Cleveland Host Committee raised more money than either of the previous two RNC host committees, and we have raised enough money to cover all expenses,” said Emily Lauer, a spokeswoman for the committee.

The committee released details about its contributions and spending for the first time in a filing with the Federal Election Commission today. It is allowed to keep the information secret until 60 days after the close of the convention. The host committee for the Democrats is required to file its disclosure next week.

In addition to the contributions detailed by the host committee, a nonprofit, the Republican and Democratic parties have raised millions of dollars more in special convention accounts. Those donors are disclosed monthly.

Corporations and unions have also found other, quieter ways to support the conventions, such as sponsoring delegations and hosting private events.

The committee’s largest contributor, according to the new disclosure, is Jobs Ohio, which gave $10 million. Jobs Ohio is a private economic development nonprofit that draws its revenue from state liquor sales.

Corporations giving seven figures include Ohio companies whose executives helped lead the host committee, including law firm Jones Day, which also represents Trump and gave $1.5 million; KeyCorp., the Cleveland-based parent company of Key Bank, which gave roughly $1.4 million; Eaton Corp., which gave $950,000; and Sherwin-Williams Co., which gave $500,000.

Other big corporate contributors include AT&T, Microsoft, Cisco, Ohio-based Marathon Petroleum, and the American Petroleum Institute.

Nevada casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, a GOP megadonor, contributed $1.5 million after the convention ended in August, according to the filing. His contribution, which appears to be the largest from an individual, came after organizers wrote to him with a desperate plea for cash in July, asking for $6 million to pay for the convention and saying other donors had backed out of pledges because they were reluctant to support Trump.

After Politico reported on the committee’s letter to Adelson and his wife, Miriam, the head of the host committee apologized and said the letter contained inaccurate information.

Asked about the Adelson contribution, Lauer said the committee appreciated his support “and we were pleased to welcome him to Cleveland for the Convention.”

Elizabeth Uihlein, another big Republican donor, gave $500,000 in August. And before the convention, the host committee took in $500,000 from the Mercer Family Foundation. Hedge fund investor Robert Mercer and his daughter, Rebekah, oversee a super PAC that is supporting Trump.

Notably, many prominent GOP donors — including the Koch brothers — aren’t on the list.

The host committee received roughly $1.5 million from two limited liability companies created within the past year: Convention Services 2016, LLC, of Tennessee and Friends of the House 2016, LLC, of Virginia.

Agents for the two companies could not immediately be reached for comment.

Read more in Money and Democracy

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