Restrictions initially imposed by the White House barred the committee from raising individual donations of more than $100,000 or accepting any corporate money.
Republican conventions, including Mitt Romney’s in Tampa, Fla., last year, make no bones about accepting unlimited donations from corporations.
Small, individual Democratic donors were so tapped out toward the end of the campaign that Mr. Obama’s finance team started accepting millions of dollars in corporate cash for the convention in August. The decision was made after Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz swore off doing when she was named to the post a year earlier.
Mr. Obama’s advisers then opened a separate fund, called New American City, which was under no restrictions and could take corporate cash and loans. In addition to the $10 million line of credit, Bank of America and Mechanics & Farmers Bank gave another $1 million loan to this outside convention fund. It’s unclear from the FEC records whether Duke Energy secured that loan as well.
Duke Energy is the third-largest coal-burning utility, and its role in guaranteeing the $10 million line of credit spurred criticism from the left, angry that a big fossil-fuel company was helping underwrite Mr. Obama’s nominating convention.
Duke CEO James E. Rogers also regularly gives tens of thousands of dollars to Republicans and Democrats each cycle, and he led the Democratic convention finance fundraising team’s efforts to raise $36.6 million.
Although the Obama administration, through the Environmental Protection Agency, has cracked down on emissions from coal-fired plants, it has taken Duke Energy money on a number of occasions over the years.
According to a Center for Public Integrity report, nearly half of Duke’s plants use coal, and such Obama-touted green-energy technologies as solar and wind power account for only 9 percent of its power generation.
The company also is among at least a dozen firms that the Obama administration has exempted from basic environmental oversight so they can pursue energy projects paid for by stimulus tax dollars, CPI reported.
Meredith McGehee, policy director at the Campaign Legal Center, called the Duke-secured loan one more example of Mr. Obama talking a good game when it comes to trying to weaken the grip of special interest power in Washington.
Over the past four years, she said, in the name of political expedience or winning elections, Mr. Obama has repeatedly joined the money-in-politics system instead of trying to reform it. As a result, she said, he has frustrated his substantive policy goals.
“Here’s where I think the political calculation is wrong: So many things Obama wants to do on the substance side — if you don’t deal with the money in politics issue, they’re only going to tackle issues around the edges. They are not going to be able to make the bold changes they would like.”
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Susan Crabtree is an award-winning investigative reporter with more than 15 years of reporting experience in Washington, D.C. Her reporting about bribery, corruption and conflict-of-interest issues on Capitol Hill has led to several FBI and ethics investigations, as well as consequences for members within their caucuses and at the ballot box. Susan can be reached at email@example.com.
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