Friday, July 15, 2016

RNC Needs $6 Million to Cover Convention Costs

With just days until the official start of the Republican National Convention, the Cleveland 2016 Host Committee is scrambling to collect $6 million it still needs after more than two dozen corporations decided not to donate to the event.

The long list of companies who contributed money in 2012, but reneged on at least $8.1 million in donations this year, was included in a letter from the host committee to billionaire donors Sheldon and Miriam Adelson. The letter urged the couple to make up the missing $6 million the committee still needs in order to meet its goal of $64 million.

“Over the past couple months, negative publicity around our potential nominee resulted in a considerable number of pledges backing out from their commitments,” the letter says.

Last month, Wells Fargo, UPS, Motorola, JPMorgan Chase, Ford, and Walgreens all said that they would not be sponsoring this year’s Convention, despite contributing money in 2012. That list has continued to grow, and now includes other major corporations and donors like David Koch, FedEx, Visa, Pepsi, Coca-Cola, Apple, BP, and United Health.

Though many of the corporations didn’t cite reasons for their decisions, critics pressing them to withdraw have pointed to Trump’s anti-Muslim fear-mongering, hateful rhetoric toward immigrants, women, and other minorities, and the violence he has inspired in his supporters.

The letter indicates that the presumptive Republican nominee, who frequently touts his personal wealth, is unwilling or unable to make up the costs himself. It also comes after Republican National Committee (RNC) has vowed for months that Trump would not hurt the Convention’s fundraising efforts.

Civil rights advocacy group Color of Change PAC began a campaign this February to convince many past RNC donors to withdraw their sponsorship this year. “We really tried to focus on corporations that have given in the past,” spokesperson Rashad Robinson said. “We focused on how this really is not a business-as-usual convention and corporations have to make a choice between a relationship with Trump and a relationship with our community.”

After holding private meetings with various companies and running public ads and campaigns to convince them to withdraw, Robinson said his group saw many successes.
“After a series of behind-the-scenes conversations with Coca-Cola, they announced that they would be scaling back their participation significantly,” he said. “We also were out publicly against Coca-Cola — they were very much feeling the heat from us.” He also said that Microsoft agreed not to give any cash to the RNC, although it will still be donating to the Democratic National Convention.

Friday’s letter, Robinson said, proves just how dishonest the RNC has been “about how much Trump was hurting them or would hurt them.”

In January, GOP Convention spokeswoman Kirsten Kukowski said that the Host Committee was seeing “growing interest” from donors and indicated that Trump would not hurt the fundraising goals. “Donors are certainly looking at the marketing opportunity a convention will provide, and this convention promises to be a great opportunity regardless of the nominee,” she said.

The last-minute plea for $6 million from Las Vegas billionaire Sheldon Adelson to rescue the Republican Convention has erupted in controversy, as four of the five signatories to the letter from Party organizers never saw it before it was sent and major donors flagged serious errors that forced the convention hosts to apologize to one of the GOP’s most influential financiers. On Friday, Emily Lauer, a spokeswoman for the Cleveland 2016 Host Committee, acknowledged that the list of lost donors in the letter to Adelson was inaccurate and that the Committee has now reached out to Adelson’s aides to apologize. Lauer said she had no information as to whether the Adelsons had yet agreed to provide any funding to the convention.

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