{news} Corporate sponsorship of the 2008 Dem Convention (Kevin Vaughan, Rocky Mtn. News)

Tim McKee timmckee at mail.com
Tue May 27 15:54:00 EDT 2008

----- Original Message -----

From: "Scott McLarty"
To: natlcomaffairs at green.gpus.org
Subject: [usgp-dx] Corporate sponsorship of the 2008 Dem Convention
(Kevin Vaughan, Rocky Mtn. News)
Date: Tue, 27 May 2008 15:57:59 +0000

DNC sponsorships raise questions on motivations

Companies sign on by dozens to help party gathering

By Kevin Vaughan
Rocky Mountain News
Monday, May 12, 2008

Everything is for sale, and this summer's Democratic National
Convention in Denver is no exception.

More than four dozen national corporations have signed up as
sponsors of the convention - everyone from Allstate to Xerox. And
almost all of them have the same thing in common: They either have
business with the federal government or they lobby on pending

And that prompts a myriad of questions.

Are the big companies simply being good corporate citizens? Or are
they looking for access - maybe not to the presidential nominee,
but to members of Congress and party officials who can help make
sure their issues get heard?

The answer is simple, said former Denver City Councilwoman Susan
Barnes-Gelt: "It's always about access."

"Here's the reality," Barnes- Gelt said, "and this comes from the
experience of an old fundraiser: The first people you go to for
money are people who have an interest in making sure you're in a
decision-making position. And that's true whether you're the DNC,
the president of the United States or the local city council

Not only Democrats

To date, the Democratic National Convention Host Committee has
lined up 56 corporate sponsors.

A few have local ties, like Qwest, Molson Coors and Vail Resorts.
Others are huge national corporations, such as Anheuser-Busch,
Union Pacific and 3M.

It is not a phenomenon unique to the Democrats or Denver. A slew of
corporate donors have lined up for the Republican National
Convention in Minneapolis, and 20 of them also are sponsoring the

They include companies like 3M, Allstate, AstraZeneca, AT&T,
Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway Co., Ford, Merck, Qwest, the
Service Employees International Union, US Bank, Visa and Xcel

"Welcome to the American political system," Barnes-Gelt said of the
companies ponying up money on both sides of the aisle.

Chris Lopez of the Democratic National Convention Host Committee
acknowledged that sponsors get "opportunities" that depend on the
level of their support. Those opportunities can include tickets to
events surrounding the convention and even access to the Pepsi
Center itself, where the convention will be held.

The host committee does not have to file documents outlining the
level of sponsorships until after the convention. But Lopez said
the access goes up as the contributions do.

Massie Ritsch of the Center for Responsive Politics said
corporations sponsor political conventions for the same reason they
sponsor sporting events: to build goodwill. And at political
conventions, executives get access to influential people, Ritsch
said. "Corporations aren't allowed to contribute directly to
political parties or candidates' campaigns, but they can subsidize
the gatherings that show off a party's candidate to American voters
and get the candidate officially nominated," Ritsch wrote in an
e-mail interview.

"Money from these corporate donors helps the party, it helps the
candidate, and to call it anything other than a campaign
contribution is to make a distinction without a difference."

Interests in government

Sens. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama may be spending all their
time talking about flag pins and the Iraq war, about a gas tax
holiday and health care, but federal Lobbying Disclosure Act
records show the companies sponsoring this summer's convention in
Denver have many other interests in Washington.

Qwest, for example, is interested in a rewrite of the 1996
Telecommunications Act. Molson Coors has an interest in tax policy,
alcohol advertising and self- regulation, excise taxes on beer and
other issues. Coca-Cola is looking at the Child Nutrition Promotion
and School Lunch Protection Act of 2007 and other issues.

And on it goes - scores of issues the sponsors have lobbied on.

"Since the conventions are basically party functions, and the money
goes to pay for what the party wants to do, in part these
convention contributions are like campaign contributions," said
Steve Weissman of the Campaign Finance Institute. "And campaign
contributions reinforce lobbying representations because you can
get in much more easily to see somebody if you're a donor."

Weissman said he believes that convention sponsorships amount to
contributions directly to political candidates.

"We have long made the point that even if some of these companies
and individuals have in their mind that they are contributing to
support the promotion of the local city, like Denver, that that may
not be the only thing they have in their mind," Weissman said. "And
whatever they have in their mind, it will be something that can add
to the bonds of gratitude of political candidates.

"After all, what is a convention but the largest political ad?"

Staff writer M.E. Sprengelmeyer contributed to this report.

This year's political conventions brought to you by . . .

Organizations that have committed to sponsor both the Democratic
National Convention in Denver and the Republican National
Convention in Minneapolis and some of the issues they have lobbied


General business issues; rewrite of the 1996 Telecommunications
Act; universal service reform; video franchise relief; broadband
deployment; protection of records


Climate change, renewable energy-related issues; Clean Energy Act
of 2007; Renewable Energy and Energy Conservation Tax Act of 2007;
wind production tax credit; Climate Security Act


Contracting out of security guard functions by federal agencies;
National Defense Authorization Act

* AT&T

Telecom issues, including implementation of the 1996
Telecommunications Act; congressional oversight and video franchise
reform; Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act Amendments Act; cash
balance issues in the Pension Protection Act


Drug importation; foreign drug inspection program; Medicaid drug
rebates; drug safety; pediatric drug provisions; compounding
issues; Children's Health Insurance Program


Flood Insurance Reform and Modernization Act of 2007; Homeowners
Defense Act of 2007; National Insurance Act of 2007;
Nondiscriminatory Use of Consumer Reports and Consumer Information
Act of 2008; Homeowners Insurance Protection Act of 2007

* 3M

Emissions control and safety systems; airline and baggage security
issues; federal appropriations; science- based decision-making on
water and air quality


Increased funding for National Immunization Program; funding for
Food and Drug Administration; patent reform legislation; opposition
to drug importation


Legislation related to "black box" recorders on new automobiles;
the Cameron Gulbransen Kids and Cars Safety Act of 2007; Damaged
Vehicle Information Act; Passenger Vehicle Loss Disclosure Act


Various legislation related to credit card issuer practices


Drug safety; legislation related to pharmaceuticals, including the
Patient Protection and Innovative Biologics Medicines Act of 2007


Bankruptcy reforms to prevent foreclosures; tax incentives for
renewable energy


Drug-importation issues; Medicare and Medicaid coverage and
reimbursement issues; pharmaceutical regulations; tax issues;
patent issues


Rail Antitrust Enforcement Act; tax credits, rail capacity, rail
infrastructure; Railroad Competition Improvement and
Reauthorization Act


Patent reform; health-care related bills, including legislation
related to safety of advanced medical devices, promotion of health
information technology systems


Legislation reauthorizing New Markets Tax Credit


Farm Bill provisions; other legislation affecting renewable fuels;
freight rail issues


Fuel-efficiency issues, climate-change issues; employee benefits,
health care and pension issues; corporate governance and tax
issues; arbitration rules


Matters relating to the malt beverage industry; family
entertainment; regulation of marine mammals, endangered species and
wildlife; solid waste disposal issues; legislation affecting
recycling deposits


Legislation that would remove antitrust exemptions and subject
insurance industry to Federal Trade Commission regulation

M.E. Sprengelmeyer

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Tim McKee, is a National Commitee member of the Green Party of the United States and is a spokesperson for the Green Party of CT.
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