DNC host officials short on cash
The committee for the Democratic convention considers cuts in
light of the fundraising shortfall.
By Chuck Plunkett
Friday, May 30, 2008
Millions of dollars behind in raising money and unlikely to meet
a fast-approaching final deadline, the
committee hosting the Democratic National Convention is
considering spending cuts.
Committee sources say they are working with the Democratic
National Convention Committee to consider lowering the $55
million in private cash and donated services that must be raised
to bring the convention to town. The cuts would be made to
the many parties the host committee is obligated to throw for
the delegations and the news media, and other hospitality
functions not tied to production aspects inside the convention
"There have been no specific decisions made," host committee
spokesman Chris Lopez said. "We're always identifying
costs and weighing them against our anticipated revenue."
Lopez said the committee is still working to satisfy its full
Steve Farber, a Denver
lawyer leading the host committee's financial charge, agreed,
saying, "I continue to believe we are going to raise the money."
With less than 90 days to the convention and no way to stage it
elsewhere, the shortfall in funds could mean the Democratic
Party's plan to showcase itself in a smaller city will result in
making do with less.
The development could likewise hurt
Denver's desire to showcase itself, both
in the civic programs it wants to stage during the convention
week and in future bids.
"It's never good to not deliver the goods," said Eric Sondermann,
a political analyst in
Sondermann says he thinks it's understandable that the money has
been hard to come by because potential donors have been
reluctant to step in without a clear Democratic presidential
nominee. The problem is worsened by the possibility that a
vote on the convention floor might be what settles the question
of whether to seat delegates from Florida
Also, Denver has fewer corporate
headquarters than past host cities, and fewer also than St. Paul, Minn.,
where the Republicans are holding their convention — and where
fundraising is on schedule.
"But whether those are accepted as reasonable explanations years
down the road when the particulars of 2008 are forgotten and
Denver is making an application for some major event, time will
tell," Sondermann said.
$15 million short of June goal
Host committees often struggle with fundraising until much
closer to opening day, when big-city mayors and big-state
senators and other political powers come to the rescue.
lacks that kind of clout, and the host committee leadership
within the last week and a half concluded the full $55 million
could be impossible to fulfill.
DNCC spokeswoman Natalie Wyeth declined to discuss the matter
but said in a statement, "We are always reviewing our budgets
and plans to ensure we are being fiscally responsible and
budgeting efficiently and effectively throughout the planning
The host committee sources didn't specify an amount they wish to
cut. But committee officials are $15 million short of the
$40 million in cash they are contractually obligated to raise by
The committee also must raise $15 million in donated services,
which, if those aren't offered, must be bought. The value
of donated services offered to date has not been released.
The committee never established an $19.5 million line of credit
it agreed to in its contract with the DNCC. Officials had
said they didn't think it would be necessary. Now those
officials say it would be impossible to establish.
Mayor John Hickenlooper has frequently commented about the
"backbreaking" work of trying to raise the money. Earlier
this month, he said, "I'm not sure I could put in any more time.
There's weekends, there's nights. My 5 1/2-year-old's
ready to ship me off to Siberia."
He declined to comment for this story.
committee missed its first milestone in June 2007 by $1.5
million but hit its second deadline in December with $15
million. It missed its third deadline March 17 by $5
million, and has raised only $2 million since then.
Chuck Plunkett: 303-954-1333 or