Goldman Sachs Joins Boeing in Nixing Convention Donations

Goldman Sachs Joins Boeing in Opting Out of Convention Funding
Some companies are back in the convention business, including AT&T Inc. and Microsoft Corp., according to lists of donors released by both host committees. Photographer: Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg

Goldman Sachs Group, Lockheed Martin Corp. and Boeing Co. gave a total of $1.3 million to the host committees funding the Democratic and Republican conventions four years ago. This time, they aren’t on either party’s donor lists.

They’re among the companies that are opting out of funding the party’s quadrennial presidential nominating sessions at which thousands of delegates and elected officials are inundated with products and pitches by corporations seeking to elevate their political profiles.

With extra scrutiny of the mingling of delegates and special interests, some companies may have decided they didn’t want the attention, said Sheila Krumholz, executive director of the Center for Responsive Politics, a Washington-based research group that tracks campaign contributions.

“For the corporations to transfer funds from their general treasuries to the conventions may be of less value than in past years,” Krumholz said. “There’s too much of a spotlight.”

Some companies are back in the convention business, including AT&T Inc. and Microsoft Corp., according to lists of donors released by both host committees.

New York-based Goldman Sachs contributed $250,000 to the Denver host committee for the 2008 Democratic convention and $255,000 to the Minneapolis-St. Paul committee for the Republican gathering, according to the Campaign Finance Institute, a Washington-based research group that studies convention giving.

Goldman Giving

While Goldman employees are the largest company source of campaign contributions to Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney’s campaign and were the biggest for President Barack Obama four years earlier, the company is sitting out the conventions this time.

“We are operating in a constrained spending environment, so we’ve had to cut back in a number of areas,” said David Wells, a spokesman.

Lockheed Martin, the world’s largest defense contractor, and Chicago-based Boeing, the world’s largest aerospace company, also have decided not to give to either convention host committee.

Their decisions come just months before $1.2 trillion in automatic spending cuts over a decade -- half of which would affect the Defense Department -- are scheduled to kick in.

Defense Cuts

The reductions are required by the 2011 agreement to raise the U.S. debt limit. The cuts, also known as sequester, were designed to force Congress to find alternative deficit-reduction proposals. Lawmakers, so far, haven’t agreed on such a plan. Both Obama and Republican vice-presidential nominee Paul Ryan, a Wisconsin congressman, backed the debt-limit agreement.

The Bethesda, Maryland-based Lockheed Martin gave $200,000 in Denver and $150,000 in Minneapolis-St. Paul to help finance the partisan festivities. This year, company officials simply attended the conventions.

“We take a bipartisan approach in participating in the political process and engaging with federal, state and local political leaders committed to national security, homeland security, education and technology issues,” said Jennifer Whitlow, a spokeswoman.

Boeing also decided not to contribute to the host committees this year, according to a spokesman, Tim Neale, after giving $225,000 to the Democratic host committee and $200,000 to the Republican committee in 2008.

Before it's here, it's on the Bloomberg Terminal. LEARN MORE