Democrats Broke Pledge by Taking Corporate Convention Cash

President Barack Obama speaks to the delegation at the 2012 Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina.Harry E. Walker/Mct/Zuma

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In the lead-up to their party’s convention in Charlotte last month, top Democrats vowed to fund their every-four-years gala solely with individual donations. “We will make this the first convention in history that does not accept any funds from lobbyists, corporations, or political action committees,” Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.), the DNC chairwoman, said last year. That pledge, it turns out, was a whole lot of bluster.

New election filings show that the Democratic National Convention benefited from millions in corporate cash. The convention took in at least $5 million in corporate money to rent the Time Warner Cable basketball arena that served as the convention hall. Convention officials also tapped almost $8 million from a line of credit from Duke Energy, a Charlotte-based electricity company with close ties to the Obama administration. The DNC banked a million more in in-kind contributions from corporations such as AT&T, Bank of America, Coca-Cola, Microsoft, and Costco. Labor unions gave nearly $6 million to the convention as well, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

A separate fund created to support the convention, New American City, also brought in corporate money. Bank of America gave $5 million, Duke Energy contributed $4.1 million, and AT&T chipped in $1 million.

DNC spokeswoman Melanie Roussell told the AP that convention officials broke no laws in raising corporate money. Any fundraising restrictions, Roussell said, were self-imposed by conventional officials. In all, Democrats’ official convention fund raised $24 million to supplement the $18 million provided by taxpayers. New American City raised $19 million.

The GOP had no qualms raising corporate cash, and it ultimately hauled in nearly $56 million for its convention held in Tampa in late August. The RNC’s corporate donors included Archer Daniels Midland, Bacardi, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Chevron, Citigroup, Comcast, CSX Corporation, Duke Energy, Ernst & Young, FedEx, Ford, General Electric, Google, JPMorgan Chase, Lockheed Martin, Walmart, Wells Fargo, and Xerox Corporation. GOP mega-donor Sheldon Adelson chipped in $5 million, while industrialist David Koch and investor John Paulson both gave $1 million.

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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