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The host committee struggled for more than a year to raise money, ultimately amassing $24.1 million, short of an already revised goal of $31.1 million. The original target was $36.6 million.

The only Federal Election Commission report available from the host committee dates back to October and shows $8.7 million in outstanding debts from loans.

Watchdog groups, which once lauded Mr. Obama’s pledge to run “the most transparent government in history,” say the loan shows that the president put political expediency above his transparency pledges.

“This is just a blank check for the party, and it undermines the whole [Obama] message of cracking down on special interests’ influence in Washington,” said Tyson Slocum, an energy specialist for Public Citizen. “It’s clear the administration is hypocritical.”

Mr. Slocum, and other left-leaning watchdogs, are particularly concerned about Democrats accepting large donations from Duke, the third-largest coal-burning utility in the country, and any favoritism and unfair influence with Obama administration officials that could result.

Although the Obama administration, through the Environmental Protection Agency, has cracked down on emissions from coal-fired plants, Duke is among at least a dozen firms the administration has exempted so it can pursue energy projects paid for by stimulus dollars, according to a report by the Center for Public Integrity.

Duke received $200 million in federal stimulus money for “smart-grid” improvements in 2009, and at least two of the company’s power plants — one in North Carolina and another in Indiana — got hundreds of millions of dollars in “advanced coal” tax credits from the Department of Energy, as well as federal and local incentives.