Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Businesses, Unions Fund Fun in Chicago Receptions, Breakfasts Adding Up to Lots of Advertising for Donors

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Businesses, Unions Fund Fun in Chicago Receptions, Breakfasts Adding Up to Lots of Advertising for Donors

Article excerpt

When Missouri Gov. Mel Carnahan addressed guests at his posh dinner party in Chicago, he began, "First, let me thank my sponsors."

Welcome to the 1996 Democratic National Convention.

Sponsors - primarily corporations and labor unions - are everywhere. Signs outside virtually every reception and breakfast tell who's paying. Even the convention banners lining Chicago's streets carry the name of a donor business or group.

Donations are nothing new. What's different this time, delegates say, is the amount of the gifts - and the prominence of advertising for the givers.

Chicago '96, the official Democratic organization hosting the convention, says it has raised more than $12 million in donations. Donors include 74 firms - among them Anheuser-Busch Cos. Inc. of St. Louis - which each gave at least $100,000.

The Chicago hosting organization lined up funding for welcoming parties for each state, including Missouri's affair at the Museum of Contemporary Art and Illinois' bash at the Chicago Historical Society.

But the general convention kitty hasn't paid for daily state events, including delegation breakfasts and receptions, said Joe Carmichael, chairman of the Missouri Democratic Party.

Helping Your State

So state organizations have sought their own contributors. Ameritech, Illinois' major telephone company, bought omelettes for the Missouri delegation Tuesday morning. On Wednesday, the Seafarers International Union laid out a buffet.

"All they expect is to be recognized at the event," Carmichael said. An Ameritech executive was allowed Tuesday to talk to delegates about his company.

Sometimes, fund raising falls to intermediaries. Carnahan's midnight buffet Monday cost about $15,000. Lou Hamilton, a Democratic activist who runs two St. Louis consulting firms, offered to raise the money.

"It was easy. Took about five minutes," Hamilton said. "Everyone wants to be involved because it's a positive way to help out."

The fancy catered event was paid for by Hamilton's In Line Communications firm, Coca Cola Enterprises w- and two unions, the Seafarers and the Operating Engineers.

In all, the Illinois delegation has 12 benefactors to thank: Ameritech; Bank of America; the Chicago Development Council; Coffield, Harris & Ungaretti; First Chicago/NBD; Hotel and Restaurant Employees Local 1; Laborers International; Mercy Hospital; MCI; Metro Provider Services; United Food and Commercial Workers Local 881; and Xerox Corp. …

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