Despite restrictions, corporations helped with Democratic convention

Reuters Middle East

* Labor unions and Duke Energy biggest financial backers

* Many corporations provided in-kind goods and services

* Host committee took out a $10.9 million loan

WASHINGTON, Oct 17 (Reuters) - Companies including Duke

Energy Corp, Bank of America Corp and AT&T Inc spent millions of

dollars to help stage last month's Democratic convention,

technically complying with the party's restrictions on corporate

funding, financial disclosures revealed on Wednesday.

The convention, where President Barack Obama officially

accepted his nomination on Sept. 6, marked the first time the

Democratic Party, seeking to set an example, had set limits on

sources of funding. It banned donations from corporations and

lobbyists and capped individual donations at $100,000.

But several large corporations contributed free-of-charge

goods and services to the account funding the Democratic

National Convention. Scores more donated to a separate fund

exempt from those limits because it was meant to finance

activities "of ongoing value" to the host city of Charlotte,

North Carolina, and not the Democratic event itself.

Republicans had no similar restrictions on donations for

their convention.

Labor unions, a traditional source of cash for the

Democrats, gave $3 million.

Charlotte-based Duke Energy was the strongest

corporate financial muscle behind the Democratic convention,

giving $1.6 million in in-kind donations by providing office

space and furniture, travel, consulting and parking spaces,

according to Federal Election Commission disclosures

The company wrote another $4.1 million check to the second,

separate fund, called New American City. Chairman Jim Rogers

contributed a total of $339,523 in both regular and in-kind

donations for travel and personal staff expenses for

fundraising, according to the filings.

Duke also guaranteed a loan that convention organizers had

to take out to cover a money shortfall, Democratic officials

said.

AT&T financed $298,562 worth of "delegate bags" and

"catering for suites" for the main convention fund and gave $1

million to the New American City fund, filings showed.

Bank of America, also based in Charlotte,

contributed $271,864 worth of furniture and office space to the

convention and gave $5 million to the New American City fund.

Microsoft Corp contributed $71,521 worth of

catering, the Coca-Cola Company funded $69,590 worth of

delegate bags and Costco bought $27,000 worth of food

and service items. Half Moon Bay Brewing Co provided $5,000

worth of beer and Chiquita Brands International Inc

supplied $4,000 worth of bananas, among others.

"Beyond showcasing Charlotte for the entire world, the

convention generated millions of dollars in economic activity

for our community and valuable infrastructure improvements,"

said Dan Murrey, executive director of the host committee.

"We have accomplished all of this without passing any of

these costs on to the taxpayers."

In all, the main "Charlotte 2012" fund sponsoring the

convention raised $24.1 million. But it came up short of the

necessary funds and had to take out a $10.9 million loan.

Organizers still owe almost that amount after spending $29.9

million.

The New American City, for its part, raised $19 million and

spent $19.6 million. It also holds $1.3 million in debt.

The fund's other biggest donors included Time Warner Cable

Inc, meetings and events planning firm Experient Inc,

Wells Fargo & Co bank and Charlotte-based Mechanics &

Farmers Bank.

The biggest labor union donors, giving $500,000 each, were

the Service Employees International Union, the American

Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees and the

United Association of Journeymen and Apprentices of the Plumbing

and Pipe Fitting Industry.

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