According to a report from the New York Times, Republican officials are having difficulties getting donors to pay for the Republican National Convention to be held in Jacksonville, Florida after Donald Trump yanked the gathering out of Charlotte, North Carolina in a fit of pique over COVID-19 health restrictions.
At issue, the report notes, is that millions of dollars were spent in North Carolina where a smaller event will now be held, and now the party is, in essence, forced to pay for a second convention.
Add to that, donors who have already ponied up are reluctant to sink more money into Jacksonville over fears that convention will be called off due to a spike in COVID-19 infections as Florida.
According to the report, "Organizers are trying to assuage vexed Republicans who collectively gave millions of dollars for a Charlotte event that has mostly been scrapped. The host committee there has spent virtually all of the $38 million it raised before the convention was moved, leaving almost nothing to return to donors, or to pass on to the new host city."
Fear of funding a convention that could contribute to the COVID-19 spread is weighing heavily on some donors who are taking a wait-and-see approach before writing another check.
According to Stanley S. Hubbard, a Minnesota billionaire who has donated more than $2 million to the Republican Party, "I don’t want to encourage people getting sick."
According to the Times, "The threat of the virus and the complicated financial entanglements are just the latest problems to beset an event that Mr. Trump upended last month, after concluding that Charlotte could not guarantee the celebratory coronation he covets," before adding that organizers fear big donors may not come to their rescue.
Edward E. Burr, a real estate developer and member of the Jacksonville host committee, admitted the new convention is a tough sell, and hinted that not everyone agrees that still holding the convention is a good idea.
“It’s certainly a challenge,” he admitted. "This path is a twisty path. A lot of things continue to change. I’ve got plenty of friends who said this is a bad thing to do, but we are doing it.”
Back in Charlotte, local organizers are still fuming about the move.
“There’s deep frustration,” explained Tariq Bokhari, a Republican City Council member in Charlotte. “There are people who’ve put hundreds of thousands if not millions into this. They care that their investment comes to fruition, that our city hosts a major convention and our businesses and hospitality workers get the benefits.”
According to the Times, "Big corporate donors who typically make $1 million contributions do so because they want to capitalize on social and branding opportunities at an event that draws lawmakers, lobbyists and business leaders. But right now, it’s not clear to them what the Jacksonville proceedings will look like."
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