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Bank Of America And Billionaires Funded Conventions

Posted by The Agonist on October 18th, 2012

From our partners at The Agonist

by Russ Choma

(Originally posted by OpenSecrets Blog, republished under a Creative Commons license)

The story of the money behind this year’s political conventions hews very closely to the funding narrative of the entire election cycle — the Republicans had a huge advantage, led by generous donations from individuals, and the Democrats turned to a coalition of traditional supporters and a very large regional company.

ObamaConvention.jpg

Both parties looked to regional backers to foot large parts of the bill for the respective conventions. A number of well-heeled Tampa-area individuals and companies picked up much of the tab for the Republican Convention in August, while Charlotte, N.C.-based Bank Of America was the single largest financial supporter behind the Democratic Convention in that city in early September.
In total, the 2012 Tampa Bay Host Committee raised $55.8 million and spent about $52.4 million, while the Committee for Charlotte 2012 raised a much more modest $35 million and spent $33.4 million. Contributions from Bank of America to the Democratic event came to $10.9 million, nearly one-third of the total. Bank of America also donated $1.1 million to the Republican event. 
If one big bank’s support was key to the Democrats’ event, extremely wealthy individuals, in particular Las Vegas casino mogul Sheldon Adelson, played a similar role for Republicans. Adelson gave $5 million, while Bill Edwards, a Tampa area resident, gave $4.6 million through two of his companies, Marketing Solution Publications and Mortgage Investor’s Corp. Several big hedge fund players also topped the list of individual donors — Paul Singer of Elliott Management, who has donated millions to conservative super PACs, gave $1 million, as did Robert Mercer ofRenaissance Technologies, also a large donor to conservative super PACs. Paulson & Company, the hedge fund run by John Paulson, gave another $1 million. James S. Davis, the chairman of shoe company New Balance, also donated $1 million.
The Republican convention also received a $1 million donation from David Koch, the billionaire liberals love to hate, but the Democratic convention got $310,000 from the Tides Foundation, which is partially funded by liberal billionaire George Soros’ Open Society Institute.
Regional support played a role for both conventions. Behind Bank of America, the second largest donation to the Democrats came from Duke Energy, a North Carolina based company, which gave $1.5 million. Duke Energy CEO James Rogers personally gave another $339,000. Florida Power and Light gave $1 million to the Republican event, while the New York Yankees gave $150,000 — not a surprise considering the Steinbrenner family’s connection to Tampa.
Unions gave $5.9 million to the Charlotte committee, and several American Indian tribes also made notable appearances, with four tribes combining to give $400,000 to the Democratic event. One of those tribes, the Chickasaw Nation, also gave $100,000 to the Republican convention, and the Seminole Tribe gave $350,000 to the Republicans as well.
Big business gave to both sides, but large donations from major publicly traded corporations top the list of donors to the Republican event: AT&T gave $3 million (not counting in-kind donations for telephone service), Microsoft gave almost $1.6 million and United Health Care Services gave $522,000. The Republican convention also got a significant boost from the oil and gas industry — the American Petroleum Institute gave $2 million, while America’s Natural Gas Alliance chipped in $400,000.
Missing from the Republican convention’s list of donations — small checks. The committee collected just $1,200 in unitemized contributions (donations of $200 or less) and just six donations from people giving between $200 and $500. In total, the Republicans had 304 itemized donations (including in-kind donations).
The Democrats, on the other hand, relied heavily on small donors. The Charlotte committee listed $866,000 in unitemized contributions, and had 1,558 donors who gave between $200 and $500, more than five times the total number of donors to the Republican convention.
(Image:  Barack Obama, Flickr.) 

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