This Convention Brought to You By…

The four-day Democratic National Convention about to begin in Los Angeles will be run by the Democratic National Committee and the Gore-Lieberman campaign.

But behind the scenes, reports CBS News Correspondent Russ Mitchell, the event will largely be financed by major corporations and powerful businesspeople.

Eli Broad is one of those people—one of the richest men in Los Angeles and one of a handful of local billionaires responsible for bringing the convention to the City of Angels.

Broad, who has close connections with President Clinton and Vice President Gore, helped raise a record $48 million as co-chairman of the LA Host Committee.

"I love LA. This is a great city. We are the capitol of the 21st century," said Broad. "We're doing it because we want to showcase this city to 15,000 journalists like yourself and to 20,000 other visitors."

But critics think donors like Broad have other motivations.

"They like to say they are doing this for local PR, in Philadephia and Los Angeles. In reality, the PR they are interested in getting is with members of Congress and with the next President and Vice President of the United States," said Larry Makinson, executive director of the Center for Responsive Politics, a campaign finance watchdog group.

"Politicians are like any human beings," said Makinson. "If somebody helps you out when you needed help, you're going to be grateful to them. You open a door. You do a little something extra for them."

It's that appearance of impropriety that Congress was trying to eliminate in the 1970s when it set aside federal funds to finance party conventions.

But the $13 million allocated to each party this year is only a fourth of what each spends on its quadrennial extravaganza.

So companies like AT&T, UPS, GM, BP Amoco, and Microsoft—all of whom frequently lobby Congress for favorable legislation—have donated $1 million each to the host cities.

For some, the process raises serious ethics questions.

"What I see is a very, very mercenary thing going on here, where the most powerful interests in the country and the wealthiest interests in the country are one in the same," said Charles Lewis of the Washington, DC-based Center for Public Integrity, "and they all go to the same parties."

But the Host Committee claims it did turn away some donations.

"We do not accept money from tobacco companies or tobacco company subsidiaries, gun manufacturers or gun lobbyists," explained Noelia Rodriguez of LA Convention 2000. "We did that mostly to send a message that you can do the level of fund raising that needs to be done without tapping those resources."

The host committee's biggest corporate benefactor was the American International Group, which gave $2 million. It is pressing Congress to normalize trade relations with China.

Broad sits on AIG's board of directors but insists he had other moties for his contribution.

"Why do we do it? Out of civic pride," he said.

Indeed, despite his generosity, Broad got neither the speaking slot nor the private skybox he wanted at the convention.

Still, Broad's claim seems a simplistic explanation to campaign finance critics.

"In many cases, when you're writing a check for $10,000, $50,000, $100,000, $250,000 or more, you've got more than one reason. Maybe one reason for your heart, but also a reason for your head," said Makinson.