The Democratic National Convention: Of, by, and for the Top 1%

by Pejman Yousefzadeh on February 9, 2012


Democrats are billing the upcoming Democratic National Committee’s annual convention as a “People’s Convention,” funded by “the people.” At President Obama’s request, the host committee in Charlotte—which must raise $36.6 million to pay for the convention—has promised to refuse donations from corporations, lobbyists or other special interest groups, including unions. Individual contributions are limited to $100,000.

But living up to these ambitious self-imposed rules is proving more difficult than party leaders expected. Local sources say the DNC is approaching wealthy Bank of America executives in an effort to unload some of its premier convention packages. A number of these executives have been shocked at the audacity of the proposition, given the administration’s attacks on not only the bank but also on wealthy Americans in general. President Obama and his Democratic colleagues have repeatedly charged that wealthy Americans are not “paying their fair share” to the federal government in the form of taxes.

Steve Kerrigan, the committee CEO, recently convened a meeting with lobbyists and other Beltway power brokers at the Jefferson Hotel in Washington D.C. Democratic sources told Bloomberg that Kerrigan, a former national political director for Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.), touted an expensive array of convention “packages” that were aimed at attracting ultra-wealthy donors.

One of the options is the $1 million “Presidential” level, which includes a “premier uptown hotel room” and “concierge services,” as well as the $500,000 “Gold Rush” package.

Convention leaders have also sought to court ultra-wealthy donors by moving the president’s acceptance speech to Bank of America Stadium (the bank is headquartered in Charlotte), the 74,000-seat home to the NFL’s Carolina Panthers. White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said the decision was intended to allow “greater participation from all walks of life.” However, Democratic sources confided that the move would allow convention organizers “to sell more skyboxes to wealthy donors,” according to Bloomberg.

No one should be surprised by any of this.

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