RNC covered its convention costs, but some who gave in 2012 stayed away
By: Ashley Balcerzak
The last-minute pleas for donations seems to have paid off (literally): The committee organizing the Republican National Convention in Cleveland this year raised $65.7 million, more than was given for each of the previous two powwows: In 2012, the Tampa host committee raised $55.2 million, while 2008’s St. Paul festivities attracted about $61.3 million. The Cleveland 2016 host committee spent about $49.8 million.
This $65.7 million is a bit tricky though, because it includes in-kind gifts (when the donor gives goods or services worth the listed amount of cash) as well as payments to the host committee for things like parking passes and hotel rooms. Looking at just actual cash donations, the Cleveland committee raised about $50 million from companies and other organizations, many of them Ohio-based, and $4.2 million from individuals. The haul from organizations beats the GOP’s comparable number from 2012, $32.6 million. The checks from individuals, however, lagged, totaling just one-third of 2012’s $13.3 million.
The host committee still owes almost $1 million to entities such as Cleveland Indians Baseball Company LP ($140,000), Cleveland State University ($112,000) and Hampton Inn & Suites ($79,000).
Nineteen organizations or individuals pitched in $1 million or more each to support the four days of festivities announcing Donald Trump as the Republican nominee. Some big corporate contributors included AT&T with $4.3 million worth of gifts and telecommunications services, Cisco Systems with $2 million in telecommunication support and Microsoft with $1.8 million, which includes in-kind software licensing. Trump’s campaign counsel, Jones Day, gave more than $1.5 million to support their client’s big bash — mostly in cash, but also via free gifts and furniture. (Employees of the law firm, though, have given much more to Hillary Clinton’s campaign than to Trump’s: $167,000 to $518.)
This year, there’s much more home-state pride: Buckeye State organizations and local government itself gave about $37 million this year, compared to just $11 million from Florida entities in 2012.
JobsOhio, an economic development agency that owns the rights to Ohio liquor profits, contributed the largest sum, $10 million. Cleveland Browns owner Jimmy Haslam gave $1 million through his petroleum company Pilot Corp.
That’s not the only oil and gas company with strong Ohio connections on the list: Witcliff, Ohio-based Lubrizol and Findlay-headquartered Marathon Petroleum gave a combined $1.5 million. A few other Ohio staples: FirstEnergy Corp ($1.25 million), the massive Cleveland Clinic ($340,000) and Fifth Third Bank ($1 million.) The city itself and the broader county area, Cuyahoga County, each contributed $2 million.
Several reliable deep pocketed-individuals on the right supported the convention as well, though a couple pitched in quite late: A month after the balloons dropped, casino magnate Sheldon Adelson contributed $1.5 million. That’s way short of the $6 million the host committee tried to solicit from him in a letter sent one week before the event was to begin. The president of packaging company Uline, Elizabeth Uihlein, gave a $500,000 donation two weeks after the event ended.
Other hefty individual gifts came from Karen Wright, president and CEO of gas-compressor manufacturing company Ariel Corporation, who donated $998,000 in the form of investments, and Western Refining CEO Paul Foster, who pitched in $250,000. Christopher M. Connor, the CEO of Sherwin-Williams, also threw $100,000 into the bucket, and his company gave $500,000. Rebekah Mercer, the daughter of Renaissance Technologies’ Robert Mercer and the head of a pro-Trump super PAC, gave $500,000 through the family foundation she heads.
While 2012’s convention received six donations of $1 million-plus from individuals, Adelson was the lone donor to break into six figures this year. Some big names noticeably missing from the 2016 roster who were heavy hitters four years ago: Paul Singer of Elliott Management and David Koch of Koch Industries, both party stalwarts but both Trump-averse. New Balance chairman James Davis and Ashley Furniture executive Ronald Wanek also sat this year out.
Adelson, too, indicated coolness toward the nominee until recently. The casino executive contributed more in 2012 to the Tampa host committee — $5 million — than all individuals together have given to the Cleveland equivalent this yea. But Adelson appears to be coming off the sidelines; it was recently reported he plans to commit $45 million to electing the Donald and other Republicans.
The Cleveland contributions are in addition to the $23.5 million in funds raised by the Republican National Committee’s separate convention account through July; those accounts (The Democrats have a comparable one) are meant to replace grants of public funds that this year would have been roughly $20 million for each party. The RNC money is supposed to be used for explicitly political activities, including delegate-related expenses, legal and accounting costs of the convention itself, and similar costs; host committee cash is meant to be for more general uses, including parties outside the convention hall.
As for the Dems’ party in Philly, we have to wait until next Monday to see who helped foot that bill.
Bob Biersack, Jack Noland and Viveca Novak contributed to this post.
Originally published at www.opensecrets.org on September 20, 2016.