The Democratic National Convention Committee has returned $50,000 in Walmart gift cards, after union complaints, reports Bloomberg:
MEGAN HUGHES: I got this from a Democratic Convention official that the Walmart gift cards are being returned. What we’re talking about here again is the $50,000 in Walmart gift cards; these were an in kind donation for office supplies. Now, committee officials said the donation did not violate DNC rules which ban corporate cash donations, because, again, they were in-kind. But, the Democrats were under a lot of pressure to return them from unions, who haven’t been happy about this. A source with knowledge of the issue says the reason they are being returned is just that: That the unions requested it. Now, we also, Mark, just got a response from Walmart. A spokesman there says:
“We planned to donate the gift cards to a local food bank in Charlotte. Walmart has a long history of supporting elected officials and political parties on both sides of the aisle and we remain committed to finding ways to play a meaningful role at both Democratic and Republican conventions.”
HUGHES: Now, the Democratic—the committee that’s working on hosting the convention did not specifically cite a union [unclear], but we know this is something the UFCW was pushing for; also big picture, a number of unions have expressed anger for the Democrats holding the 2012 convention in Charlotte—a non-union town, in a right-to-work state, at the Bank of America Stadium. Now, union contributions to Democrats on the national level, we know, are down; AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka vowed to withhold support to candidates who haven’t been responsive to the labor movement. So, big picture, that’s the backdrop to all of this. We have seen a lot of tension between unions and the Democratic Party; today’s move might be an olive branch.
ANCHOR: Megan, we’re also hearing that the host committee’s looking for cash from the unions to pay for the convention.
HUGHES: That’s exactly right. The host committee needs to raise $36 million—that’s the goal. We know as of the end of last month, they were about halfway there. Now, four years ago, in Denver, unions gave $8 million to that event, so the DNCC is hoping for deep pockets once again. Another thing worth pointing out, a big obstacle for the DNCC, this self-imposed ban on corporate donations. Just for some perspective, the RNC has no ban for theirs. They’re taking money from AT&T, Microsoft, and Coke, so Democrats have a little bit of an uphill battle there.