Democrats move convention kick-off event, amid rumors of lackluster fundraising

By Conor Skelding

Fundraising shortfall or right on track? That's the question raised by a Bloomberg story r eporting that the Democratic Party is $27 million behind its funding goal to underwrite September's National Convention in Charlotte, North Ca. Apparently, this budget deficit may have prompted Democrats to cancel a convention kick-off event at the Charlotte Motor Speedway and relocate it to the main business district, the Bloomberg article implies.

Bloomberg cites "two people familiar with the matter who requested anonymity to discuss internal party politics" as the sources claiming there's a funding shortfall. But Steve Kerrigan, chief executive officer of the convention committee, flatly denied any budgetary problems. "We are right on track with fundraising," he said in a phone call with the National Journal. "I don't know where they are getting their numbers from."

At Denver's 2008 convention, corporate sponsorships amounted to more than $33 million of that year's fundraising goal. But this year the Democratic Party has banned direct corporate donations altogether, although it will accept in-kind contributions from companies, such as telephone services or gift cards. The idea is to encourage more individuals to contribute to and get involved in the convention. [Republicans have enacted no such corporate ban.] "We have the resources we need," said Kerrigan. "You're never fully funded until the last check is in and the last bill is paid."

Back in January, Kerrigan announced that the convention, which normally lasts four days, would be shortened to three "to make room for a day to organize and celebrate the Carolinas, Virginia, and the South and kick off the convention at the Charlotte Motor Speedway on Labor Day," according to Bloomberg. But on Monday, the committee revealed the change in venue. Kerrigan reasoned that "it made more sense to have it [the kick-off event] in Uptown Charlotte, right where the heart of the city is," reported the National Journal. Logistical factors played a part, said Dan Murrey, the executive director of the Charlotte in 2012 Convention Host committee, "in order to facilitate public caucus meetings—and to maximize accessibility, transportation and proximity of guests."

Democrats registered another host committee for Charlotte 2012, New American City Inc., which will accept direct corporate donations. A spokeswoman for the committee, Suzi Emmerling, stated only, "we're doing just fine."

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