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Duke Energy writes off $10-million loan for Democratic convention

February 13, 2013|By Matea Gold
  • A Duke Energy worker repairs a line after a storm. The company has written off a $10-million line of credit it guaranteed to help produce the Democratic National Convention.
A Duke Energy worker repairs a line after a storm. The company has written… (Chuck Burton / Associated…)

WASHINGTON — Duke Energy has already written off a $10-million line of credit the company guaranteed to help produce September’s Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C., boosting the role of corporate funds in putting on the event.

The loan is not due until the end of the month, but Duke wrote it off as a loss in the third quarter and reported it again Wednesday when it released its year-end earnings, noting that it took a $6-million loss and $4-million tax benefit for “DNC Host Committee Support.”

Tom Williams, a spokesman for Duke, said the decision to write it off last year was a decision made by the energy company’s controller for accounting purposes.

Chief Executive Jim Rogers noted Wednesday that the host committee still had “a couple weeks to go” to pay back the loan, the Charlotte Business Journal reported.  “But let's take a worst-case scenario that we can’t raise the money ... I think it's a great investment for our community,” he said, adding that the convention generated an estimated $160 million in economic benefits for the region.

It appears likely Duke will have to cover most of the loan. The Charlotte host committee had repaid just $1 million as of the end of the year and still owed $9 million in loans and another $1 million in outstanding bills, according to the latest filing with the Federal Election Commission.

Dan Murrey, the committee’s former executive director, told the Charlotte Observer last month that more money had come in since then. “We’re continuing to work on it,” he said. Murrey could not immediately be reached for comment Wednesday.

The financial backing from Duke comes despite vows by Democratic Party officials to put on the convention without corporate cash.

Organizers broke that pledge after they were unable to hit their $36.7-million fundraising goal, drawing $5 million from a separate civic committee financed by companies such as Bank of America, Duke Energy and AT&T to rent the the Time Warner Arena for the event.

Convention officials had originally said the committee, called New American City, would not be used to pay for the convention itself but rather would cover the costs of overhead, welcome parties and community projects.

matea.gold@latimes.com

twitter.com/mateagold

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