MSNBC's Bashir Fails to Challenge Dem Convention CEO's Malarkey About Corporate Donation Ban

In light of a new raft of abysmal polling data for President Obama, Martin Bashir this afternoon brought on Democratic National Convention committee CEO Steve Kerrigan to rally rank-and-file Democrats at home watching MSNBC.

At one point, Kerrigan insisted that "at the president's direction, we're the first and only convention in history to eliminate corporate money, lobbyists' money, PAC money, and special interest money from funding this convention."

"It's going to be funded by the grassroots of America and by the people," Kerrigan added.

While that's a cute talking point for the Democrats, it's not exactly accurate. As the Charlotte Observer reported today, there's a huge loophole to the ban on corporate and special interest money (emphasis mine):


Charlotte fundraisers, unlike their Tampa counterparts, face the added hurdle of new restrictions for what the party touts as "the People's Convention."

None of the $37 million can come from corporations, registered lobbyists or personal donations over $100,000. Gone are gifts such as the $1.7 million that Cisco Systems gave Denver's 2008 convention.

Of the $61 million collected for Denver, 72 percent came from donors giving $250,000 or more, according to the nonpartisan Campaign Finance Institute. A dozen donors gave $1 million or more.

The new restrictions, however, don't apply to the host committee itself.

Duke Energy CEO Jim Rogers, who co-chairs the committee, is quietly raising up to $15 million for the committee, in part from corporate contributions. That's on top of the $37 million in noncorporate contributions for the convention itself. Among other things, the money will go toward organizing and hosting events for the expected 35,000 visitors.

"We don't have the same restrictions on the host committee that are on the (convention)," says [Dan] Murrey [host committee executive director].

Wells Fargo, for example, expects to donate an unspecified amount of money to both conventions, says spokeswoman Alexandra Ball. And Belk Stores is giving the Democratic convention $100,000.

In other words, money from non-corporate sources may pay for the convention itself, but all the fun parties and dinners and soirees where Democratic politicians, delegates and superdelegates are wined and dined are able to be financed by corporate, labor union, and other special interest donors.

What's more, as Kristen Lombardi of The Center for Public Integrity noted back in March, Duke Energy, whose CEO co-chair the Charlotte host committee, extended a $10 million line of credit to the Democratic Convention. Groused the liberal Lombardi:

Duke is the nation's third largest coal-burning utility, thriving on the black rock to generate electricity in five states. It has vowed to shut down rather than clean up operations at some of its coal-fired plants. Nearly half the company's plants are coal, and it hasn't built a nuclear facility since 1985. Solar, wind, and other supposedly green "bio" technologies account for only 9 percent of Duke's power generation.

Yet Democrats didn't hesitate to accept Duke's offer to secure a $10 million line of credit for their presidential nominating convention in Charlotte next year, despite a $100,000 limit on individual and corporate contributions. And Duke's CEO, James Rogers, is leading the effort to raise $36.6 million to underwrite the event.

Bashir did a disservice to his viewers by failing to hit Kerrigan over the cynical hypocrisy of promising a special interest-money-free "people's convention" while making ample provision for that same money to pay for the very events where lobbyists have prime access to Democratic big wigs.

Ken Shepherd
Ken Shepherd
Ken Shepherd is the Managing Editor for NewsBusters