Philly Clout: DNC's 'trade secrets' uncovered ... sort of

July 28, 2016: Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton walks on stage at the Wells Fargo Center to accept the nomination of her party on the final night of the DNC.

 You might recall our repeated efforts during the lead-up to last summer's Democratic National Convention to uncover who was funding the big shindig.

But the host committee charged with raising millions of dollars for the convention wasn't too big on the whole transparency thing.

They shot us down. Every. Time.

Even after the state Office of Open Records ordered the host committee to open up its books, the committee went to court to block the release of reports it was supposed to file with the Philadelphia Authority for Industrial Development (PAID).

Its argument? The reports were "trade secrets" and "proprietary information."

The DNC host committee finally filed documents with the Federal Election Commission in September - two months after the convention - detailing $85 million in contributions from unions, corporations and local people of means willing to chip in.

Not that any of those good corporate citizens would ever want anything in return. Nahhh.

We subsequently filed a Right to Know request and got ahold of the reports the committee submitted to PAID, which had guaranteed a $15 million line of credit that the committee ended up not needing.

Now Clout feels duped.

The supposed "trade secrets" are just monthly spreadsheets of money raised, listed only by category of donors - corporate, organizations and individuals. On the expense side, they're just breakdowns of how much cash was spent on categories such as transportation and technology.

No specifics, no details that could compromise ongoing vendor negotiations. The totals for each month don't even match the next month's report. It basically looks like a bunch of gibberish.

Clout asked for some clarification from PAID - a public agency - but it said we had to ask the host committee. So we went back to Anna Adams-Sarthou, the host committee spokeswoman.

Adams-Sarthou said: "We're not going to take the time to go through and explain these spreadsheets because everything one could ever want to know about our financials was outlined in the post-Convention FEC filing."

Fine.

Too bad Hillary Clinton, who defeated Bernie Sanders with the covert assistance of Democratic National Committee staffers, wasn't "everything one could ever want" in a presidential candidate.

Maybe then we wouldn't have to worry about the White House becoming an arm of the Kremlin.

Ed: Nothing to see here

 

Speaking of the DNC host committee, its chairman, Ed Rendell, tells Clout that everything is A-OK with Best Sunshine Live, that casino in the middle of the ocean that's run by Donald Trump protege Mark Brown and has drawn scrutiny from federal investigators and is paying the ex-guv $5,000 a month.

Got all that?

In November, Bloomberg broke the story of how its owner, Hong Kong-listed Imperial Pacific International Holdings, has been reporting billions of dollars in casino bets on the tiny U.S. island of Saipan - catching the attention of U.S. Treasury officials.

Last month, Bloomberg reported that an ex-employee had sued the casino and alleged that he witnessed violations of anti-money laundering procedures. Just after Christmas, the Macau Daily Times reported that Imperial Pacific shares have been dropping and the casino was having trouble financing new construction.

Doesn't sound good. We got Rendell on the horn Wednesday to see what's up. He said he talked to Brown, who told him the feds are closely monitoring all the money coming in and going out.

"Every dime. It would be crazy to do it," Rendell said, referring to money laundering.

"I don't think Mark Brown would have gone out there to run a money-laundering operation," Rendell added.

(For the record – and in case anyone’s offering – Clout would absolutely relocate to a tropical island to run a money-laundering operation. Sounds fun.)

Anyway, Rendell said he's still pocketing that $5,000 a month, but if any of these headlines turn out to be a real problem, "I would have to reassess my continued role with the company."

She's baaaaaack

Last week, our colleague Susan Snyder reported that Vice President Joe Biden will be setting up shop at the University of Pennsylvania. And you know it's only a matter of time before "Diamond Joe" is hanging out by the Button with a six-pack of Schlitz and the Medal of Freedom dangling from his neck.

But Uncle Joe isn't the only former government official headed to Penn.

Desiree Peterkin Bell, former aide to ex-Mayor Michael Nutter, will be teaching urban communication at Penn's Annenberg School in the spring.

Peterkin Bell was a key figure in the prolonged Cold War between Nutter and Mayor Jim Kenney, who terminated her employment just before she was vested in the city's pension system. Peterkin Bell had previously called Kenney #AngryArchieBunker on Twitter.

Nutter had a total meltdown in December 2015 when Clout reported that Kenney wouldn't be hiring Peterkin Bell. It's known around here as the "Bye, Felicia Incident."

We wish Peterkin Bell much success in her new gig.

Staff writers Claudia Vargas, William Bender and Joseph N. DiStefano contributed to this column.

benderw@phillynews.com

215-854-5255

@wbender99


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"Philly Clout," an award-winning weekly Daily News political gossip column founded 21 years ago by now-retired Daily News assistant managing editor Gar Joseph, also now appears in the Inquirer.

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