Inside Chicago’s 2024 Democratic convention bid: $30 million line of credit deal was key

A spokesperson for Mayor Brandon Johnson told the Sun-Times the new mayor, sworn into office May 15, is on board with the line of credit contract former Mayor Lori Lightfoot signed May 12.

SHARE Inside Chicago’s 2024 Democratic convention bid: $30 million line of credit deal was key
Now former Mayor Lori Lightfoot speaks about the effort to win the bid for the convention during a press conference at Shedd Aquarium, Wednesday, April 12, 2023. Chicago was chosen as the site for the Democratic National Convention in August 2024.

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot talks about the effort to win the bid for the 2024 Democratic National Convention April 12, shortly before she left office, during a news conference outside the Shedd Aquarium.

Anthony Vazquez/Sun-Times file

WASHINGTON — In order to land the 2024 Democratic National Convention, the Democratic National Committee demanded bidders establish a line of credit — and that’s why the city of Chicago created a $30 million credit agreement with the Amalgamated Bank in New York.

A spokesperson for Mayor Brandon Johnson told the Chicago Sun-Times that the new mayor, sworn into office on May 15, is on board with the line of credit contract former Mayor Lori Lightfoot signed May 12, in the final days of her term.

Since 2000, when Democrats met in Los Angeles, their conventions have been privately funded.

As part of the city’s winning bid — beating out Atlanta and New York — the host committee, Development Now for Chicago, pledged to raise $84.697 million. That figure is in the 59-page credit contract between the city and Amalgamated obtained by the Sun-Times.

The DNC, in its request for proposal, wanted a line of credit as a backstop and to have a financial tool in place for short-term smooth cash flow management, since contributions to the host committee do not all come in at the same time.

The host committee, still in formation, has enormous fundraising firepower. It’s led by Michael Sacks, a major Democratic donor and fundraiser, and billionaire Gov. J.B. Pritzker is expected to be a major contributor.

No one foresees the city of Chicago being on the hook for any taxpayer money as a result of this line of credit. According to the contract, the host committee must certify for the bank the amount of the shortfall and promise it has a “high degree of confidence” it will receive revenues within 30 days to pay it back.

Pritzker’s anticipated large host committee donations sweetened the city’s DNC pitch, which was already strong because of Chicago’s ability to deliver a turnkey operation; Illinois and nearby Midwest Democratic states being a showcase for President Joe Biden’s policies; great union hotels, restaurants, museums and other venues, plus fantastic beaches and more.

On April 11, the DNC announced Chicago will host the convention at the United Center Aug. 19-22, 2024, with other events at the McCormick Place complex.

When the contract was signed April 12 there was a piece of financial business still to complete: the line of credit.

“The $30 million line of credit that the city put forth was a critical component to Chicago’s successful bid to host the 2024 DNC Convention,” Lightfoot told the Sun-Times via email.

“This line will help ensure the Host Committee’s fundraising efforts are focused on raising the funds necessary to provide a world-class experience for President Biden, Vice President Harris, Democratic Party delegates and attendees,” she said.

The 2024 Democratic convention in Chicago will be funded mainly through three sources:

• The host committee pledged to raise $84.697 million.

• The 2024 Democratic National Convention Committee Inc. will do its own fundraising, bound by Federal Election Commission rules.

• Since 2004, host cities receive $50 million in federal funds to help pay security costs. Congress is being asked to boost this to $75 million each for Chicago and Milwaukee, which is hosting the Republican presidential convention July 15-18, 2024.

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