GOP convention organizers apologize to Sheldon Adelson

http://www.politico.com/story/2016/07/sheldon-adelson-rnc-convention-225629

CLEVELAND — The last-minute plea for $6 million from Las Vegas billionaire Sheldon Adelson to rescue the Republican convention has erupted in controversy, as four of the five signatories to the letter from party organizers never saw it before it was sent and major donors flagged serious errors that forced the convention hosts to apologize to one of the GOP’s most influential financiers.The episode has opened a window into a host committee that is scrambling and still millions shy of its fundraising target, only days before tens of thousands of Republicans arrive in Cleveland, as it acknowledges for the first time that presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump has put a damper on donations.The letter, obtained by POLITICO on Thursday, outlined two dozen major corporations — Coca-Cola, Pepsi, Duke Energy and Apple, among them — that it claimed had backed out a combined more than $8.1 million in pledged donations in recent months.But on Friday, Emily Lauer, a spokeswoman for the Cleveland 2016 Host Committee, acknowledged to POLITICO that the list of lost donors in the letter to Adelson was inaccurate — and that the committee has now reached out to Adelson’s aides to apologize.“Some of what were referred to as pledges were actually expectations based on pledges made to previous conventions, while a handful had been withdrawn,” David Gilbert, the CEO of the host committee, said in a prepared statement.Lauer also said that Gilbert was the only one of the five named signers of the letter that had actually seen the document, which blamed “negative publicity” around Trump for its financial shortfall, before it was sent.One of the signatories who never saw the letter was Christopher Kelly, a partner at Jones Day, the prominent law firm where Trump’s top election lawyer, Don McGahn, is also a partner, and where Trump has held meetings while in Washington D.C.The other signatories were Christopher Connor, executive chairman of The Sherwin-Williams Co., Alexander Cutler, chairman and CEO of the Eaton Corporation, and Beth Mooney, chairman and CEO of KeyCorp.None of the four responded to a request for comment.Lauer said the letter came about because the “last 10 percent” of fundraising — the group has raised $58 million of its $64 million goal — is typically the most challenging and must be secured quickly close to conventions.“Our staff approached a very generous donor that has a history of supporting host committee efforts and asked for a contribution,” she explained. “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.”Lauer 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.”Among the companies listed disputing the claims in the letter is Visa, which was listed as withdrawing a $100,000 pledge. A company spokeswoman told POLITICO on Friday, “Visa has not made any pledges to sponsor either of the host committees in 2016.” A Koch Industries official also disputed the claim in the host committee’s letter that billionaire David Koch had pledged $1 million, then reneged.“No such commitment was made,” said Ken Spain, the company’s managing director for corporate communications.Koch had donated $1 million to the 2012 convention and served as an alternate delegate to the event, but he never even discussed providing funding to this year’s event, Spain said.Koch and his brother Charles Koch have expressed serious misgivings about Trump. And the deep-pocketed network of advocacy groups helmed by the billionaire brothers has signaled that it doesn’t intend to spend significant money boosting Trump, despite the network’s close ties to his newly named vice presidential running mate Mike Pence.It is not clear how many other companies were inaccurately listed as having withdrawn pledged in the host committee’s letter to Adelson.Lauer said she had no information as to whether the Adelsons had yet agreed to provide any funding to the convention. A spokesman for Sheldon Adelson did not immediately respond to a request comment.Trump himself has helped raise some money for the party convention since he became the presumptive nominee in May, opening a joint fundraising committee with the RNC that includes a party convention fund that can receive as much as $100,200 per donor.But in an interview on Fox News on Friday, Trump’s campaign chairman and chief strategist, Paul Manafort, suggested that if Adelson was planning to cut a $6 million check he would rather he give it elsewhere.“I’d like to have him bail out — write a check for the Trump campaign for that amount of money,” Manafort said. “That would be good.”Contribution limits for federal candidates are $2,700, though Trump PACs can accept unlimited donations.

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