Big corporations steering clear of party conventions
Both Democrats and Republicans are bemoaning the difficulty in raising funds from giant corporations for their party conventions.
There is some speculation in party circles that companies are balking at giving to the GOP convention so as not to risk tarnishing their brand by seeing it associated with Donald Trump.
None of the firms are publicly pointing to Trump as the reason they're staying away. But the GOP's more well-documented struggles appear to be taking a toll on Democrats, since many companies prefer to give to both conventions or neither in order to project an image of balance.
Democratic Party officials expect the convention to cost $84 million. The host committee says it has brought in roughly $40 million in pledges and contributions so far.
“It’s easier to say 'no' than 'yes' at this point,” said Michael Meehan, a veteran Democratic political operative who worked on John Kerry's 2004 presidential bid. “Some of our corporate clients have said they are still planning to do both, but reserve the right that we may not send anybody in the end. Come July, their executives might stay home and watch.”
In 2012, Duke Energy provided a $10 million loan to Democrats for its convention in the company's hometown of Charlotte, which it later forgave. This year, though, the energy giant still hasn't said whether it will participate in either convention. Duke does not have a timeline for when it will decide, said spokesman Dave Scanzoni. He declined to comment on the factors that company officials are weighing, but said "there's no relationship" between the lack of a decision and the field of candidates.
Bank of America, which contributed $5 million in Charlotte, is also remaining mum on its 2016 convention plans. "At this point, we wouldn't have anything to share on that," said company representative Ferris Morrison.
Time Warner Cable, on the other hand, has already decided against reupping for the conventions. The company, which has a large presence in Charlotte, gave $600,000 to the Democratic convention four years ago. Company spokesman Bobby Amirshahi said Time Warner is "not sponsoring or supporting either political convention this year. And we don't have plans to send employees to either convention." The telecom firm is in the final stages of a merger with Charter Communications.
As toxic as Trump is, I think it's more likely that corporations aren't ponying up because the entire process has disgusted the American people. The race in both parties has been a shameful exhibition, and people are heartily sick of it. Having one's brand associated in any way with the political process won't help, and it certainly might hurt.