Action News Investigation: Big money, donors behind Democratic National Convention

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- The glitz and glamour of the Democratic National Convention gives the public only a tiny glimpse of the real wheeling and dealing going on behind the scenes. It's at the hush-hush, closed-door, high-dollar events where the money really rolls in.

"These donors, especially the high rollers, are getting very special treatment - kid gloves, velvet ropes, yachts, you name it," said Open Secrets Executive Director Sheila Krumholz.

Donors with deep-pockets pay up, reportedly $30,000 for a pair of tickets to a Nancy Pelosi party at the Barnes, where Action News was asked to leave.


"Money that is secret, where the original source of the money is not known, is more powerful. It's more influential, more persuasive," said Krumholz.

The host committee has refused to release the names of the donors footing the bill for what is expected to be the most expensive convention on record.

But an Action News review of emails released by WikiLeaks give voters an inside view of the pay-to-play politics of the DNC.

Wealthy donors who gave $467,000 were rewarded with the top convention package called the "Rittenhouse Square," complete with VIP access and a room at the Ritz or Rittenhouse Hotel. Other packages, called the "Fairmount" and "Mainline," are also based on contributions.

PHOTOS: The 2016 DNC in Philadelphia

"They expect to be treated as special VIPs, which they are to the parties. They're the ones that are bankrolling the party convention funds," said Krumholz.

The contributors are granted special access to concerts, celebrities, parties and the politicians. But the question is: What else is that money buying?

"Money doesn't elect politicians, people do. But people can be swayed, and the groups that are spending hundreds of millions of dollars to sway electoral outcomes hope that their message will not be undercut," said Krumholz.

And while there has been push-back for requests on that donor's list, the Federal law requires it be made public within 60 days of the end of the convention.
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