Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

If nominated, Sanders will ban corporate donations at 2020 DNC

- Bill Glauber

Organizers of the 2020 Democratic convention in Milwaukee are on notice: If Bernie Sanders is the party’s presidenti­al nominee, he’ll ban corporate contributi­ons for the event.

Sanders made the pledge Monday with the release of his plan to “get corporate money out of U.S. politics.”

The independen­t U.S. senator from Vermont has been off the campaign trail since he had a heart attack last week.

Josh Orton, policy director for Sanders’ campaign, said: “When Bernie is the nominee, everything will fundamenta­lly change for corporate elites. [He] fights for the people, cannot be bought and is under no obligation to fulfill any transactio­n with a corporatio­n trying to corruptly buy access. A Bernie Sanders convention will be a people-powered convention.”

Even if he becomes the nominee, it’s not clear what practical effect Sanders’ pledge will have on the Democratic convention.

Milwaukee’s host committee has to raise up to $70 million to stage the event. In addition, the Democratic National Convention Committee (DNCC) is aiming to raise another $20 million.

Much of the money is expected to have been raised and spent before delegates arrive, July 13-16.

Corporate donations are key to the funding of the event.

“Our focus is getting the convention appropriat­ely funded and paid for well in advance so that we can deliver a safe and successful convention that puts our nominee in the best position to beat Donald Trump in 2020,” Joe Solmonese, chief executive of the DNCC, said in a statement.

Sanders unveiled a wide-ranging plan on corporate cash that includes mandatory public financing laws for all federal elections and passing a constituti­onal amendment “that makes clear that money is not speech and corporatio­ns are not people.”

But the plan also takes aim at how convention­s are funded, with the Sanders campaign noting that at the 2016 Democratic Convention in Philadelph­ia, 17 donors provided three-quarters of the funding.

“As the Democratic nominee, Sanders would ban all corporate contributi­ons to the Democratic Party Convention and all related committees,” the release said.

Fundraisin­g for Milwaukee’s convention has been overshadow­ed by the intense pursuit of dollars by the party’s presidenti­al contenders.

Last month, Solmonese met with lobbyists in Washington, D.C.

The meeting was first reported by POLITICO, which noted an “awkward pairing” of “representa­tives for special interests meeting with top Democrats while the party’s leading presidenti­al candidates reject corporate PAC and lobbyist cash.”

POLITICO said DNC officials “explained during the meeting how corporatio­ns can help foot the bill for the convention, regardless of who the nominee is, addressing some lobbyists’ worries that a crusading leftwing nominee like Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren could try to reject corporate money, embarrassi­ng convention sponsors.”

POLITICO also reported on “event packages.” For instance, a $300,000 donation provides access to two well-placed hotel rooms near the convention site, Fiserv Forum.

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