$85 million raised for DNC more than enough to cover costs of Philly event

 (Bastiaan Slabbers for NewsWorks)

(Bastiaan Slabbers for NewsWorks)

The balloons and confetti have been cleaned up for about two months, but we’re only just learning how much it cost to have the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia.

According to a financial report filed with the Federal Election Commission late Monday, the host committee raised more than $85 million to cover the costs of the event. And, unlike last summer’s papal visit, the city is not expected to foot any of those bills.

The biggest donation of $10 million came from the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development.

Other major donors included two companies with ties to DNC host committee leaders. David Cohen, an adviser to the committee, is also executive vice president of Comcast Corporation, which gave more than $5.6 million of mostly in-kind services such as telecommunications, construction and advertising. Independence Blue Cross, of which host committee finance chairman Daniel Hilferty is president and CEO, gave more than $1.5 million. See a full list of the top donors below.

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On the FEC report, the city is listed as donating $8.6 million. According to spokeswoman Lauren Hitt, the money came from a $43 million federal grant from the Department of Justice to cover security costs. 

There could be money to spare

So far, the host committee has spent about $75 million of the money it raised, which means there could be money to spare. 

“This will be the first Democratic Party Convention in 32 years to not leave a deficit, to actually have a little bit of a surplus and to pay all its bills,” said former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell, host committee chairman. Four years ago, the DNC host committee in Charlotte, North Carolina. came up $12.5 million short.

“How we use that surplus will be decided when we know exactly what it is,” Rendell said.

The host committee still has roughly $6.3 million in outstanding debts to settle.

About half of that is to pay back a $5 million loan from the Philadelphia Industrial Development Corporation, the city’s public-private economic development arm. The host committee said it would pay off that loan, plus interest, by the end of the year. (In July, a Common Pleas judge ruled against an independent journalist who wanted the host committee to release the quarterly financial reports it submitted to the city agency under the state’s Right to Know law.)

Mayor Jim Kenney’s office said the host committee would also reimburse city taxpayers for about $520,000 in “non-security related operational costs.”

So what did all of this money pay for?

“Some of the biggest expenditures were transportation, construction and production,” said Kevin Washo, the host committee’s executive director.

The FEC report shows more than 2,800 disbursements, including millions of dollars for the buses that shuttled delegates and staffers back and forth to the Wells Fargo Center in South Philadelphia where the convention was held.

It also includes $13 million to Hargove, Inc., the construction firm that transformed the sports complex into a convention center, complete with media and security tents and the convention stage backdropped by a huge video wall.

And then there were the costs of amusing the delegates and visitors, such as $250 for Philadelphia’s Bearded Ladies Cabaret who performed on Broad Street along with other groups. Some entertainment came in the form of “in-kind” donations, including tickets to the Philadelphia Orchestra to the tune of $750 and $248 worth of duck boat rides. 

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