Tags: Democrat | Influence | GOP | Convention | Worries | Conservatives

Democrat Influence on GOP Convention Worries Conservatives

Tuesday, 24 June 2003 12:00 AM

The activists are also angry about the prominent role of New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg in the fund-raising and planning of the convention. Bloomberg was a lifelong Democratic Party fund-raiser and activist until he switched to the Republican Party to win the mayoral nomination and eventually the election in 2001.

Organizers of the Republican National Convention recently said that contrary to previous years, the convention had nearly reached all of its fund-raising goals 15 months before the event. Even more notable was the fact that the New York City Host Committee for the convention had managed to secure donations from New York Democrats. The convention is scheduled be held from Aug. 28 to Sept. 2, 2004.

"There is an old saying, 'If you sip soup with the devil, you better use a very long spoon,' The GOP needs to watch its back," said Niger Innis of the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE), a conservative African American civil rights group based in New York City.

Innis warned that the GOP had better not allow Democrats' money and the "liberal Democrat" Bloomberg to influence the convention.

The GOP "needs to consider using its friends, the grassroots 'true blue' conservatives and organizations that support them, as an insurance policy against potential Democratic mischief," Innis added.

Given Bloomberg's role, Innis was not surprised that the city's host committee announced it had secured convention funding from New York Democrats such as real estate magnate William C. Rudin, a longtime Democrat whose past donations have gone to Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle, D-S.D., and Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y.

Another Democrat donor is Jonathan Tisch of Loews Hotels, who has also given to Hillary Clinton, Rep. Charles Rangel, D-N.Y., and Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y. In addition, Dr. Harvey W. Schiller, the Bloomberg-appointed president of the New York City Host Committee for the convention, has donated to Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., and Sen. Ernest Hollings, D-S.C.

Innis said he feared that Bloomberg's influence and that of the Democrat donors would not serve the interests of President Bush's re-election campaign and could result in a hostile environment for conservative ideas.

"[Citigroup's] Sandy Weill is in bed with Jesse Jackson on a regular basis, and William Rudin has long ties to the Democratic Party," Innis said, referring to Weill's support for Jackson's organizations. "Granted they are businessmen, but they also have political agendas."

"Bloomberg and many of the donors he has gathered have a contempt for social conservatives. Social conservatives should be terrified of the types that will be running the convention," Innis said.

Several phone calls to the Republican National Committee and the Republican National Convention seeking comment were not returned. However, Bloomberg's office did respond to the allegations of undue Democrat influence.

"This is absolutely ridiculous. It shows a complete lack of understanding of the role of the host committee for a national convention," Jennifer Falk, spokesman for Bloomberg, said in an interview with CNSNews.com.

Falk pointed out that host committees cannot promote the agenda of any political party. The host committee, she said, features "three of the most Republican figures" in former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, New York Gov. George Pataki and Bloomberg.

"The people who have donated funds to help us put together a fantastic convention are doing it because of their love and commitment to the city of New York," Falk explained.

Republican and Democrat donors have contributed to the convention because it "is enormously important to our economic health and the future of the city," according to Falk.

"So it should be of no concern to anyone what [the donors'] party affiliation is," she said.

A Manhattan Republican activist, who declined to be identified for this article, said Bloomberg could not be trusted to be the GOP's organizing force for the convention.

"Only three out of 40 people in his inner circle are Republicans. His staff is nearly 90 percent Democrats," the source told CNSNews.com.

"Five out of five of his deputy mayors are not just Democrats, but liberal Democrats," the activist said, warning at the same time that "Unapologetic Democrats are having an untidy influence on the planning of a Republican convention."

Another New York GOP activist objected to the participation of Bloomberg's top aides, Bill Cunningham and Kevin Sheekey, in the convention planning. Cunningham, who serves as Bloomberg's strategist and communications director, and Sheekey, who is Bloomberg's Washington political aide, are former staffers for the late Democrat Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan and have a long history of Democratic Party activism.

"They are vitriolic. With them running our convention, I just hope the lights will be turned on at Madison Square Garden," said the second activist, who also did not want to reveal his identity.

Deroy Murdock, a Scripps Howard News Service syndicated columnist and sometime GOP consultant, told CNSNews.com that Bloomberg was "a liberal Democrat faking the role of a liberal Republican - and not faking it very well."

"The New York GOP embraced him for mayor primarily because he is a multibillionaire who they saw as a cash cow. That cash cow turns out to be a Trojan horse chock full of liberal Democrats who are now in the city administration helping Bloomberg run Gotham into the ground," Murdock said.

"New RNC Chairman Ed Gillespie's first order of business should be to put actual Republicans in charge of the GOP convention," he said.

But Mike Long, chairman of New York's Conservative Party, said he believed the Bush re-election campaign and the national GOP would ultimately thwart any negative effects of the Bloomberg team's influence at the convention.

"I don't believe President Bush is going to allow that to happen," Long said.

Long has no affection for Bloomberg's politics or his performance in office.

"I was never fooled by Bloomberg, never tempted to give an endorsement," Long said. The Conservative Party sometimes runs its own candidate in New York elections when party officials are unsatisfied with the Republican nominee.

"From a philosophical point of view, I don't think [the GOP's embrace of Bloomberg] was worth it. He gave us the highest tax increase the city has ever seen, a smoking ban, taking freedom away from people. He promoted that every doctor be schooled in abortion in all the hospitals," Long explained.

Bloomberg is saddled with a 24 percent job approval rating, according to the New York Times, which reports that Bloomberg's rating is the lowest in the paper's 25-year history of polling.

But Falk of Bloomberg's office dismissed the poll numbers.

"Point out to me any other mayor in the country who can point to the fact that crime numbers are dropping in their city. This city's economy is doing well. Look at those issues and point out other mayors in the whole United States of America who can claim to be doing as well for their city as we are doing in New York City," Falk argued.

Still, Bloomberg's involvement in the GOP convention has produced a lot of conservative disenchantment.

"For Mayor Bloomberg, the GOP was a convenient horse to ride to victory, but you can be sure when his political fling with the party is over, he will go back to ignoring us," Innis said.

Innis said the GOP would be in less political danger if New York City were run by a Democrat. Democrat Ed Rendell was mayor of Philadelphia in 2000 when the Republican National Convention was held in that city.

"Philadelphia was a better situation in that you know the Democrat is an enemy to some degree, so you are more suspicious of the infrastructure. You have a healthy suspicion. Unfortunately, Mayor Bloomberg's temporary party affiliation may lull the RNC into complacency," Innis said.


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The activists are also angry about the prominent role of New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg in the fund-raising and planning of the convention. Bloomberg was a lifelong Democratic Party fund-raiser and activist until he switched to the Republican Party to win the mayoral...
Tuesday, 24 June 2003 12:00 AM
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