The Charlotte host committee raising money for the Democratic National Convention came up about $12.5 million short of its original goal, according to new reports filed with the Federal Election Commission Wednesday.
The convention contract called for organizers to raise up to $36.6 million to fund the convention. Making their job more difficult: For the first time, the Democratic Party imposed restrictions on where the money could come from, barring cash contributions from corporations and lobbyists.
Through cost-cutting, the host committee got the convention budget down to $31.3 million, according to host committee CEO Dan Murrey.
But he and the committee's other fundraisers were able to bring in only $24.1 million, in cash and in-kind contributions. To make up the difference, the host committee was forced to tap the $10 million line of credit that Charlotte-based Duke Energy had guaranteed to woo the convention to Charlotte in February 2011. Duke Energy said the committee borrowed $7.9 million from the line of credit, which it must repay by Feb. 28.
Of that, $7.4 million is owed to Bank of America, and $500,000 to Mechanics & Farmers Bank, the documents show.
Duke Energy has not and will not use any utility customer funds to pay for any aspects of the convention, or events associated with the convention, spokesman Tom Williams said in a statement.
And Murrey said neither President Barack Obama's campaign nor the Democratic National Committee will help make up the shortfall. Murrey said fundraising will continue to pay off what the committee still owes.
Two of the host committee's biggest expenses were for two venues they didn't even use. They paid nearly $900,000 for Bank of America Stadium, which was scheduled to be the site of Obama's acceptance speech until bad weather forced it indoors.
And the committee paid $395,000 to Charlotte Motor Speedway for CarolinaFest a Labor Day celebration that was later moved to uptown. The committee then paid two firms $543,000 to organize the street festival.
Differences with Denver
Murrey deflected a question about how difficult the Democratic Party's restrictions made fundraising.
As with any fundraising effort, there were challenges that were met, Murrey wrote in an email. We're proud of successfully hosting a great convention, bringing positive economic impact to the community and of the over 32,000 donors who stepped up with record-setting support.
The 2008 Democratic convention committee in Denver, which did accept corporate cash donations, had only 450 contributors, Murrey said.
Labor unions, which contributed more than $8 million to the 2008 convention, gave $2.2 million to help aid the convention in Charlotte. Unions had been critical of Obama's decision to hold this year's convention in North Carolina, a right-to-work state.
A loophole in the Charlotte convention contract allowed for in-kind contributions from corporations. Duke Energy donated more than $1.5 million in office space, furniture and other support for convention organizers.
Republicans jumped on the news that the host committee and the Democratic National Convention Committee, which had frequently assured reporters that it was right on track in their fundraising, actually came up short of its original goal.
This isn't a surprise to anyone who knew about the convention, N.C. Republican Party spokesman Rob Lockwood said. Yet even when numerous reports said that the Democrats were short on reaching their fundraising goal, the Democrats intentionally continued to mislead voters and the media claiming that they were on schedule.'.
But Charlotte Mayor Anthony Foxx, a Democrat who co-chaired the host committee with Duke Energy CEO Jim Rogers, said Wednesday that the convention put Charlotte and North Carolina on the world map, exposing our city and state to thousands of delegates and media, and billions of people around the globe . We promised that the event would be a positive turning point for our city, and it has been.
(It) enhanced our ability to recruit new industry and jobs, and came at no expense to city taxpayers.
New American City
Even though the host committee was barred from taking corporate cash to pay for the convention itself, a separate fund that paid mainly for welcome parties and other events did take corporate money.
This New American City fund raised about $20 million total in cash and loans, according to the FEC filing.
The biggest givers: Bank of America, $5 million, and Duke Energy, $4.1 million.
The New American City Fund was advertised as a fund for nonconvention-related expenses, such as parties for delegates and the media.
But Murrey told the Observer last month that one of the biggest Democratic convention expenses $5 million for use of Time Warner Cable Arena was paid for from the New American City Fund.
Murrey said in that interview that contracts signed in early 2011 allowed for his group to pay the arena license fee from either the New American City Fund or the fund to cover convention expenses.
The host committee reported spending $29.9 million so far on the convention, including the $896,000 to Panthers Stadium LLC, the documents show.
Other expenses will continue to be paid over the coming weeks. The filings show the committee owed $1.8 million to companies that provided supplies and services. It still owed the convention center $133,000 for operating expenses and the city of Charlotte $29,000 for volunteer shuttle passes.
The committee's largest unpaid bill $972,000 is to a Maryland construction company. The smallest is $18.20 to Pitney Bowes for postage machine charges.
Other documents filed Wednesday show a list of 19 corporations that made in-kind contributions to the host committee, including computers from Apple and televisions from Panasonic.
The New American City fund had one corporate in-kind donor: Coca-Cola gave soda.
I am very proud of the accomplishments we made at this convention. By most accounts, this was one of the most successful political conventions in history, Murrey said in a statement.
This convention will leave an historic legacy and I am honored to have been part of it.