Wal-Mart, Democratic National Committee Get Creative with Contributions

April 17, 2012; Source: Politico

The creativity of corporate philanthropy is something to behold and admire. The Democratic National Committee has a national political convention to run in Charlotte, N.C., later this year. As everyone knows, the national parties scramble to raise tons of money from political donors and special interests to pay for the costs of these shindigs.

According to the Charlotte in 2012 website, “This year, we are setting a new standard for how Conventions are funded – no longer will it be sponsored with money from corporations, special interests, lobbyists and political action committees. Instead, our convention will be funded by supporters like you.” Online convention donors have to actually attest to the following: “1) I am a United States citizen or a permanent resident alien. 2) This contribution is not made from the general treasury funds of a corporation, labor organization or national bank. 3) This contribution is not made from the treasury of an entity or person who is a federal contractor. 4) The funds I am donating are not being provided to me by another person or entity for the purpose of making this contribution.”

If corporate donors can’t woo the Democratic Party with cash, what can they do?

GIFT CARDS!

Did you know that gift cards are not equivalent to cash? The Democratic Party has determined that while it won’t accept cash from corporations, it will accept in-kind contributions. Duke Energy, for example, is providing Charlotte in 2012 a $10 million line of credit—which apparently isn’t the equivalent of cash—and office space.

Wal-Mart apparently doesn’t have an in-kind products and services donation program, so it has decided to donate $50,000 in gift cards that can be used to purchase office supplies at the big box retailer. Do you think that a donation of $50,000 in gift cards from Wal-Mart is different enough from greenbacks to allow the DNC to maintain its principle of not accepting money from corporations to pay for the event? –Rick Cohen