Conventional Tactics

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We've noted on several occasions the major loophole provided by Democratic and Republican conventions for corporations to flex their contribution muscles. Conventions don't fit under the guidelines that restrict corporate giving to candidates and parties, so the multi-million dollar events are a good opportunity for corporate interests to give generously - and reap the benefits. This article in the New York Times focuses on the Democratic convention in Denver, and its fundraising power-player, Steve Farber.

Farber is pretty much Mr. Connected and is pulling out all the stops to bring in the more than $40 million the Democratic convention is expected to cost. With precious little in the way of donation limits to constrain him, Farber is pursuing the usual suspects:


For two years now, Mr. Farber has parlayed his love for Denver and his ability to call on a network of lobbying clients to help him with the daunting task of raising the $40 million, or more, that Democrats need to run their convention. As the host committee’s chief fund-raiser, he is on the phone 10, 20 times a day, twisting arms and cajoling potential donors — a task made more difficult by the fact that Denver has few hometown companies with enough resources to help foot the bills.

Yet, as Mr. Farber hops on planes, hosts breakfasts and pulls out the stops, he at least can draw on the resources of his law firm, Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck, one of the fastest-growing lobbying shops in Washington and one of the most powerful firms in the West, thanks to some recent strategic mergers that have only fattened his roster of blue-chip corporate clients.

“Steve Farber is involved with a lot of high-level candidates and ones who have won,” said Floyd Ciruli, head of Ciruli Associates, a Denver political consulting firm. “He’s famous for hiring ex-politicians, their children and ex-judges. He’s very good at making connections with people who have access to politicians.”

Now that presidential nominees are more or less chosen months in advance of the party conventions, and the media is restricting its coverage of the conventions to only a few high-profile speeches, the whole point of having these conventions is up for debate. Maybe the point is that they still provide an avenue for corporate cash in search of influence to exert.