Republican National Convention Committee Sends a Letter of Apology to Sheldon Adelson
The organizers of the Republican National Convention sent a letter of apology to Las Vegas Sands founder Sheldon Adelson earlier this week. The letter sent in a last-minute push by the GOP convention’s organizers to get Sheldon Adelson to pay some or part of the $6 million extra needed to stage the convention.
The group earlier sent a letter to Sheldon Adelson, stating that corporate sponsor had withdrawn $8.1 million in support from the Republican Convention, because of Donald Trump’s presence on the GOP ticket. Five members of the convention committee signed the letter.
Why an Apology Was Needed
Later, it was revealed that the letter was full of inaccuracies about corporate pullout. In the letter of apology, four of the five letter signers claimed their names were attached to the original letter without their consent. Without the ability to read over the letter, they claimed they could not be blamed for its misrepresentations.
Apparently, the host committee’s target number was $64 million to put on the convention. The committee is roughly $6 million short of that goal. In the letter, they claim that nearly two dozen corporations pulled out of convention sponsorship, due to Donald Trump’s offensive remarks.
The List of Donors
The original letter stated that corporations like Coca-Cola, Pepsi, Apple Computers, and Duke Energy had earlier made pledges to donate, but later withdrew those pledges. In all, about $8.1 million was pledged and not paid, leaving the $6 million deficit. The host committee thus was going to major Republican donors like Sheldon Adelson to get late funding for the convention.
Visa was one of the companies listed. A public statement released by the credit card network said, “Visa has not made any pledges to sponsor either of the host committees in 2016.”
Several inclusions on the list had number figures attached to them, implying they had pledged an amount of money and later withdrew their pledge. The list included David Koch ($1 million), Coca-Cola ($1 million), FedEx ($500,000), Pepsi ($500,000), and Visa ($100,000).
In a prepared statement, host committee spokesman David Gilbert said, “Some of what were referred to as pledges were actually expectations based on pledges made to previous conventions, while a handful had been withdrawn.”
Emily Lauer, one of the five signatories to the fundraising letter, admitted that she was the only member of the committee to have seen the letter. The committee flatly blamed Donald Trump for the dearth of donations, which is the first time official Republicans had blamed the billionaire real estate developer for the budget shortfall.
Those Who Signed the Letter
The other four signatories were Christopher Connor, executive chairman of The Sherwin-Williams Co., Beth Mooney, chairman and CEO of KeyCorp, Alexander Cutler, chairman and CEO of the Eaton Corporation, and Christopher Kelly, a partner at Jones Day.
Christopher Kelly’s law firm is the same one associated with Don McCahn, a Trump lawyer. The Jones Day law firm’s building in Washington D.C. has been host to several Trump meetings when he’s been in the Beltway, so at least one of the signers appears to be a Trump ally. None of the four commented on the fiasco.
How the Mixup Happened
Emily Lauer explained the gaff as the result of last-minute fundraising efforts, though she dismissed the letters as a commonplace event before conventions and other national conferences. “Our staff approached a very generous donor that has a history of supporting host committee efforts and asked for a contribution.”
Lauer added that the mixup happened when Sheldon Adelson’s people asked for clarifications on facts. Lauer said, “After initial discussion with Mr. Adelson’s staff, they requested very specific information, at a late hour in the day, and indicated the need for an immediate response and so the host committee, with input from our planning partners at the RNC [Republican National Committee], provided the information in a letter that was address to Mr. Adelson and his wife.”
The organizer went on to say that when the RNC organizers replied, they did not vet the information properly. She added, “Part of that expedited, late-evening process included the decision by our host committee CEO to include the names of our co-chairs as signatories. The co-chairs, however, did not have knowledge of the letter being sent.”
David Koch Disputed Information
The letter also noted that David Koch had reneged on a $1 million pledge to the fundraisers. Ken Spain, a spokesman for Koch Industries, disputed that information. Mr. Spain said of the reputed one-million dollar commitment, “No such commitment was made.”
The discrepancy in the case of the Koch Brothers came from internal memos which suggested David Koch might offer $1 million. That assumption was based on Koch’s contribution to the 2012 Republican National Convention, which was $1 million.
Koch Brothers’ Political Contributions
The Koch Brothers, who in 2015 claimed they would spend as much as $900 million in the 2016 US Presidential Election (on GOP candidates), are said to have little interest in funding Donald Trump’s campaign. Many Republican stalwarts believe Mr. Trump does not represent traditional conservative policies.
Also, the May 2016 disclosures about the Trump Campaign’s budget appear to have dampened enthusiasm by conventional GOP donors. The expense accounts showed a small amount of money raised, but also showed that one-third of that cash was funneled to Trump Family businesses and interests. Potential contributors might believe that donated money will go to line the pockets of Donald Trump, instead of elect him.