"Special Interests" Given Special Treatment
As a candidate in 2008, Barack Obama vowed to squelch the role of special interests in financing the party conventions — so he barred corporations and lobbyists from contributing money to this year's national convention in Charlotte, N.C.
But even as Democrats tout the three-day event in September as a populist gathering, organizers have found ways to skirt the rules and give corporations and lobbyists a presence at the nominating convention. That suggests they can't raise the $37 million for the political extravaganza without at least some help from moneyed interests.
Despite the ban on corporate money, for example, convention officials have encouraged corporate executives to write personal checks, according to sources familiar with the fundraising. And they have suggested that corporations can participate by donating goods and services to the convention, and by giving up to $100,000 through a corporate foundation.
They have also quietly explained to lobbyists that while they can't make contributions, they can help raise money from their clients — by soliciting personal checks from executives or in-kind contributions from corporations. Lobbyists who bundle high sums will get perks like premium credentials and hotel rooms.
Labor unions, meanwhile, are not specifically prohibited from giving. They provided millions of dollars for the 2008 Democratic convention in Denver.