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Want to see those DNC donor names? Unlikely till after convention

The local committee in charge of raising at least $60 million for the Democratic National Convention says it will go to court Thursday to prevent any fund-raising information from becoming public before the convention.

A' Brianna Morgan, of Philadelphia, and members of activist group Reclaim Philadelphia chant in front of the home of DNC host committee member David Cohen on Wednesday, July 13, 2016.
A' Brianna Morgan, of Philadelphia, and members of activist group Reclaim Philadelphia chant in front of the home of DNC host committee member David Cohen on Wednesday, July 13, 2016.Read moreTRACIE VAN AUKEN

The local committee in charge of raising at least $60 million for the Democratic National Convention says it will go to court Thursday to prevent any fund-raising information from becoming public before the convention.

The state Office of Open Records ordered last month that the Philadelphia 2016 Host Committee's quarterly financial reports be released to the public. The committee and the Philadelphia Authority for Industrial Development (PAID), the agency that guaranteed a $15 million line of credit for the host committee, had 30 days to either disclose the fund-raising reports or appeal to Philadelphia Common Pleas Court.

Thursday is the 30-day deadline.

"We are appealing," Anna Adams-Sarthou, host committee spokeswoman, said Wednesday afternoon. She declined to prove a copy of the appeal or any details until the appeal is officially filed Thursday.

The appeal will likely delay any potential release of records until after the convention, being held from July 25 to 28 at the Wells Fargo Center.

As the Inquirer reported Sunday, nonpartisan watchdog groups and others have sharply criticized the host committee's insistence on not releasing its full donor list, nor any precise numbers of how much the committee has raised or spent, until 60 days after the convention. That's the deadline under federal election law.

Among the critics is a group called Reclaim Philadelphia, comprised in part of Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders' former presidential campaign staffers and volunteers. That group led about three dozen chanting protesters Wednesday evening to the homes of host committee leaders - former Gov. Ed Rendell, Comcast Corp. senior vice president David L. Cohen, and Independence Blue Cross CEO Daniel J. Hilferty - calling on them to release the donor names. The protesters chanted, "Release your records, reveal your donors."

As of last week, the host committee was short of its goal by nearly $4 million. If the committee does not raise sufficient funds, it will have to tap into that $15 million line of credit, extended, in effect, by the city's taxpayers.

As part of that deal, the host committee promised to file quarterly fund-raising reports to PAID, complete with donor names, amounts, and spending.

The Inquirer and freelance writer Dustin Slaughter requested the reports through the state Right to Know Act. PAID denied the requests, deferring to the host committee. That committee, known as PHL 2016, asserted that the reports "constitute or reveal a trade secret or confidential proprietary information," PAID open-records officer Paul Deegan wrote.

The state Office of Open Records ruled, however, that the committee had not shown how making the reports public would likely cause any "substantial competitive injury." The ruling noted that the committee's "sole function ceases to exist" after the convention.

cvargas@phillynews.com

215-854-5520 @InqCVargas

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