Sometimes there is very little reward for trying to do things differently. That is especially true when a political party tries to lessen the influence of money in campaigns as the Democrats are trying to do as they plan for their national convention in Charlotte. The latest reminder of that is a report by Bloomberg News that convention organizers are struggling to hit their fundraising goals because President Obama has decreed that no money can be accepted from corporations or lobbyists and that individual contributions must be capped at $250,000. Democrats are trying to raise $36.65 million and, only four months before the convention opens, Bloomberg has them only halfway to the goal.
That is why labor leaders, who contributed more than $8 million to the 2008 convention, were nudged on Monday to get more involved this year. A convention official confirmed that the leaders, representing all the major unions, were given a tour of the convention venues. Afterwards "they had a lot of questions, including questions about fund-raising," said the official, who asked not to be named. "But," insisted the official, "there was no direct ask." That meshes with a labor source who told my colleague, Alex Roarty, that he was unaware of any specific request. But no matter how gently Democrats make their pitch, it is going to be a tough sell. The labor movement is more interested in building a ground game for the 2012 election than in funding big-ticket events like the convention.
It is just one reason why the president may come to regret the restrictions he put on his own convention organizers. There is little reward for keeping the big money out of Charlotte, especially in a year when the Supreme Court's Citizens United ruling has increased the importance of money in the presidential campaign. And if any event is a big-money event these days it is the national political convention.
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