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CEO Daily: Corporate sponsors flee the RNC

Saturday Morning Post: The Weekly View from Washington

Donald Trump’s selection of Indiana Gov. Mike Pence as his running mate signals the Republican nominee finally may want to make amends with the establishment he’s spent a year antagonizing. Where Trump has all but declared war on the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, for example, Pence has proved a mostly-reliable friend of big business. The Hoosier State governor favors an anti-regulatory, tax-cutting approach, embraces a version of immigration reform and advocates freer trade, including the Trans Pacific Partnership that Trump vows to destroy.

Pence’s promise, more than any Midwestern boost he offers, is that he’ll make the ticket look a little more conventional. But as (some) Republicans convene in Cleveland this week, they’ll find the mud that Trump’s outrages have splattered on the party won’t rinse out so easily.

Case in point: Many of the blue-chip companies that both parties rely on to help pay for their quadrennial conventions have dramatically scaled back or canceled altogether their commitments to the GOP gathering this year, privately citing the reputational risk of associating with Trump. The cavalcade of corporate names fleeing the event has left convention planners facing a cash crunch — a state of affairs revealed Thursday by the leak of a letter from the Cleveland host committee to Sheldon Adelson begging the billionaire for a $6 million bailout to cover their shortfall.

The letter lists more than two dozen corporate and individual donors who’d reneged and in what amounts. Several of them dispute ever making such pledges. Coca-Cola, for one, says it was never on the hook for $1 million, as the letter claims, and only intended to give $75,000 apiece to each party’s host committee. But Color of Change, a civil rights advocacy organization that’s led a campaign pressuring companies to back away from Trump’s convention, says otherwise. Starting in February, the group delivered petitions to companies that cut big checks to the 2012 Republican convention asking them not to endorse Trump’s “hateful and racist rhetoric” by sponsoring the event — and then followed up with executives to press the case. (“Coke was the first leader in this space,” says Arisha Hatch, director of the group’s political action committee.) It now counts 19 companies that have ratcheted back support, most by declining to give at all rather than face consumer boycotts and other harder-edged protests. The fear of Trump reflected in those decisions suggests it’ll take more than a mild-mannered deputy to detoxify the ticket.

Tory Newmyer

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