Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

RNC Tampa 2012

Tampa Bay host committee has $15 million raised for next year's GOP convention

TAMPA — The 2012 Tampa Bay Host Committee has raised about $15 million of its $55 million goal to support next year's Republican National Convention in Tampa.

"We're ahead of schedule," committee president Ken Jones said Wednesday. Every deadline set by the Republican National Committee, "we've met."

And if you count pledges and responses from "everybody that we've talked to who says they're interested, it's all raised," Jones said. "But it's a matter of turning pledges into dollars."

The fundraising update comes as 250 Republican National Committee members gather in Tampa to hold their summer meeting and get a look at next year's host city.

This week, members of state delegations will fan out across Tampa Bay to scout hotels and party spots. The convention is expected to bring 45,000 visitors to the area the week of Aug. 27, 2012.

"This is a Super Bowl times four," Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus said at a news conference at the Tampa Marriott Waterside Hotel. "Estimates are that $175 million outside dollars will be spent here during the convention."

The event is 388 days away, but host committee leaders expect fundraising to ramp up as the schedule moves to less than a year away. And they say many donors simply like to wait.

"We are in an economic down time, and a lot of people don't like to put their money out a year in advance," host committee chairman Al Austin said. "But because we are a 501(c)3 charity, we give them the option of giving part of it in 2011 and the balance in 2012 prior to the convention."

The host committee expects 45 percent of its contributions to come from within Florida.

By comparison, 36 percent of the six-figure donors to the host committee for the 2008 convention in St. Paul were from Minnesota, according to a study by the Campaign Finance Institute, a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization that tracks election fundraising and spending nationwide.

And big donors accounted for most of the money both host committees raised four years ago.

In St. Paul, 87 percent of the host committee's money came from individuals, groups, foundations or corporations who gave at least $250,000, according to the finance institute study. For the Democratic convention in Denver, 72 percent of host committee contributions came from big donors.

So how about Tampa?

"It's everything from a thousand dollars up to $5 million," Jones said.

Really? Someone gave $5 million?

"We've had a commitment," he said.

The money the host committee is raising is separate from the $55 million in federal funds that the city of Tampa is seeking to pay for convention-related security. That is expected to come in the form of a congressional budget appropriation that Mayor Bob Buckhorn and police Chief Jane Castor have lobbied for in Washington.

The host committee says the money it raises will be spent easing the burdens of local governments as they host the convention and to promote the region — not to support any particular candidate.

"Our candidate is Tampa Bay," Jones said. "Everything we do is with an eye toward getting economic development in the bay area, so when we ask for money, we're not asking for a political purpose."

To prospective donors, Austin pitches the convention as a "tremendous economic development opportunity."

"We've never had an opportunity where we've had CEOs from 49 other states converge in one place for a week," Austin said. "If we don't take advantage of that opportunity, it's our fault."

"I've been a real estate developer all my life, so I'm an eternal optimist," Austin said. "I happen to believe if we do the job right, and if we do it the way I know we're going to, I think they'll come back in '16."

Richard Danielson can be reached at or (813) 226-3403.

Host committee chairman Al Austin says the bay area needs to take advantage of the economic development opportunities that can come out of hosting the convention.


Host committee chairman Al Austin says the bay area needs to take advantage of the economic development opportunities that can come out of hosting the convention.

Stay up-to-date on the convention

For news and information about the 2012 Republican National Convention in Tampa and for video of Wednesday's event, go to

Tampa Bay host committee has $15 million raised for next year's GOP convention 08/03/11 [Last modified: Thursday, August 4, 2011 11:05am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. As Trump's fraud commission sought data, some Florida voters cancelled registrations


    After news spread last month that President Donald Trump’s fraud commission was requesting voter data from all 50 states, 1,715 voters in Florida took themselves off the …

    Kansas Secretary of State, Kris Kobach (R) and US Vice President Mike Pence, attend the first meeting of the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, on July 19, in Washington, DC.
  2. We're big fans of keeping it cool with fun inside this summer


    It's safe to say we take the complex, mysterious unicorn of air conditioning for granted.

    How cold is too cold? Researchers have tried for years to determine an ideal thermostat setting for offices, and it’s a hard question to answer.
  3. Former SEAL Kristin Beck blasts Trump decision banning transgenders from military


    Kristin Beck, a former member of SEAL Team 6 who is now a transgender woman, says the decision by President Donald Trump to ban transgender people from serving in the military would cost more in lawsuits than the savings Trump touted in medical and other costs.

    Kristin Beck, who has transitioned from former Navy SEAL Chris Beck, says President Trump's ban on transgender people in the military disrupts ongoing efforts to integrate them into the services. [Times file]
  4. 5 things to do under $5 July: Bucs training camp, Dive-In Movie, free Glazer Museum admission


    1 Bucs Training Camp: The public is invited to a series of free Bucs practices through Aug. 26. And don't forget this season HBO's Hard Knocks will focus on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, including quarterback Jameis Winston, right. There will be discounted concessions, merchandise tents, appearances by …

    LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times (2016) Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston.