Promoters of Charlotte's 2012 Democratic National Convention will have to do what no convention organizers have done before: Raise millions of dollars without corporate cash.
The party's new convention rules also limit individual donations and bar money from federal lobbyists and PACs. That could make it harder for organizers to raise the nearly $37 million called for in the contract between the city and the Democratic National Committee.
Party officials and the White House hope the changes underscore their pledge to run a grassroots convention not tied to special interests.
"Is it going to be harder for us to do this than it was for the people in Denver? Yes," said Will Miller, acting executive director of the Charlotte organizing committee. "But we agree with the way they're going about this. The DNC is going to be our partner and working with us side-by-side to raise the money."
Gone will be contributions such as the $1.7 million Cisco Systems gave the party's 2008 convention in Denver.
Corporations will still be able to give so-called in-kind contributions such as communications equipment, office space and technology. It also appears they can donate cash beyond the $37 million threshold.
Republicans noted other loopholes and called the changes "sleight of hand."
"After brief inspection, it's clear this rule isn't worth the paper it's written on," said GOP spokeswoman Kirsten Kukowski.
The Deomcratic rules block contributions from any company that received TARP money unless that money has been repaid. They also limit individual contributions to $100,000.
The new rules mark a sharp break from the way Democratic and Republican conventions have traditionally been financed.
In 2008, for example, companies such as Bank of America, AT&T and Google contributed slightly more than half of the $61 million raised for the Denver convention.
Six companies, including Union Pacific and Xcel Energy, each gave at least $1 million, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.
Organizers of the 2008 GOP convention in St. Paul raised even more from corporations. They gave about three-fourths of the $57 million raised.
"From the very beginning, President Obama has placed a high priority on increasing the influence of grassroots and individual donors, and this convention will go further in that direction than any convention ever," said DNC spokesman Brad Woodhouse.
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