The Charlotte host committee raising money for the Democratic National Convention came up about $12.5 million short of its goal, committee leaders said Wednesday, the day they were to file financial documents with the Federal Election Commission.
The committee was obligated to come up with $36.6 million to fund the convention proceedings. For the first time, the Democratic party imposed restrictions on where the money could come from, barring contributions from corporations and lobbyists.
Through cost-cutting, the host committee was able to get the convention budget down to $31.3 million, according to host committee CEO Dan Murrey.
But fundraisers were only able to bring in $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 Duke Energy had guaranteed to woo the convention to Charlotte. Duke Energy said the committee borrowed $7.9 million from the line of credit, which it has to repay by Feb. 28.
“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.
Neither the Obama campaign nor the Democratic National Committee will contribute toward making up the shortfall, Murrey said.
Murrey deflected a question about how difficult the Democratic party’s first-ever 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 of a successful convention.”
The committee that hosted the 2008 Democratic convention in Denver, which did accept corporate donations, had only 450 contributors, Murrey said.
Labor unions, which contributed more than $8 million to the Denver convention, gave $2.2 million to help fund the convention in Charlotte. Unions had been critical of Obama’s decision to hold this year’s convention in North Carolina, right-to-work state.
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 from a fund that had been designed to cover activities promoting Charlotte. This New American City Fund, which was not advertised as a source of funding for the actual convention, accepted corporate contributions.
The New American City fund raised $18.8 million total in cash, organizers said Wednesday.
Though President Barack Obama had instructed convention organizers to not use business money for the actual convention, Murrey said in that earlier Observer 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 a separate fund that was expected to come up with $36.6 million to cover convention expenses.
The $5 million arena fee, which Murrey called "a big check to write," came from the New American City Fund.
"The contract(s) specifically stipulated that it could come out of either fund,” Murrey said.
The full financial documents were not available through the FEC as of 3 p.m.
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’s list showed one corporate in-kind donor: Coca-Cola, which 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.
“Beyond showcasing Charlotte for the entire world, the convention generated millions of dollars in economic activity for our community and valuable infrastructure improvements that have already yielded increased interest among convention planners. We have accomplished all of this without passing any of these costs on to the local taxpayers. This convention will leave an historic legacy and I am honored to have been part of it."
--Andrew Dunn and Tim Funk, Observer staff writer