Duke Energy’s chief executive James E. Rogers was the “lead cheerleader” for Charlotte, the energy company’s hometown, to host the Democratic convention this year, the New York Times reports. He solicited donations, had his company donate office space, and guaranteed a loan to the convention committee:
He cited local pride as motivation, but Duke Energy, which became the nation’s largest utility with its recent merger, also had a business incentive. The company, which has supported the energy initiatives ofPresident Obama and Congressional Democrats, has received federal economic stimulus money and alternative-energy grants. Its financial future stands to be greatly influenced by the sorts of environmental proposals the president’s party has vowed to pursue.
The intersection of Duke Energy’s interests and its support for the convention is testing Mr. Obama’s pledge to free the party’s gathering from business and lobbyist support.
The Times writes that this particular instance is a “microcosm of a larger issue that Mr. Obama’s campaign has faced” in attempting to balance the president’s pledge to reduce special interests in politics with the need to raise money to compete in what’s likely to be the most expensive presidential race in history, thanks to Republicans’ skilled use of super PACs.