In a letter addressed to the Adelsons, obtained by POLITICO, the Cleveland 2016 Host Committee revealed the names of more than two dozen prominent corporations and individuals who have reneged on a collective $8.1 million in pledged donations. The letter represents the most public acknowledgement to date that Donald Trump has directly cost convention organizers millions of fundraising dollars.
The first signs of trouble emerged in March. Fearing possible violence on the convention floor, a variety of corporate sponsors, previously expected to support the Republican National Convention, announced they would hold back this year.
As we discussed in June, as spring turned to summer, and the likelihood of unrest at the Republican convention dissipated, some assumed the corporate sponsors would get back in line. They didn't. Some of the biggest companies in the country -- Apple, Coca-Cola, Microsoft, et al -- each of which had extended support to Republican conventions in the past, said they were keeping the checkbook closed in 2016, largely for fear of association with the party's controversial presidential nominee.
For a while, this was mostly a matter of political curiosity, with many observers marveling at Corporate America going out of its way to keep Donald Trump at arm's length. But as the GOP gathering in Cleveland prepares to get underway, there's an unexpected problem: Republicans don't have the money they expected to have for their convention.
The target was to raise $64 million, but GOP organizers, spurned by corporate allies, are far short of their goal. Politico reported yesterday that Republican National Convention officials have turned to billionaire casino mogul Sheldon Adelson, looking for a $6 million bailout.
The letter, dated Tuesday, said "negative publicity" surrounding Trump led a variety of sponsors to back out from their financial commitments to the convention.
Indeed, the document named names: FedEx, Pepsi, and others planned to make six- and seven-figure contributions, only to change their minds because of Trump.
Remember when RNC officials insisted Trump wouldn't cost the party major donors? Those assurances now look kind of silly.
So, what happens now? There's little doubt that Adelson could bail out the convention -- as the Politico report added, he's worth an estimated $25 billion. The primary question is whether or not he will get his checkbook.
Keep in mind, Adelson is a longtime fan of Newt Gingrich, who appears to have been passed over for the party's vice presidential nomination. It makes the Republican pitch that much more difficult: "Yeah, sorry your guy didn't make the ticket, but would you give us $6 million anyway?"
And then, of course, there's the second question: what will Republicans do if Adelson says no?