People attending this year's Democratic National Convention in Charlotte are receiving gift bags that include everything from a can of Coke Zero to a water bottle to information packets about Charlotte.
The bag also includes a pedometer provided by Minnetonka-based UnitedHealth Group. The plastic pedometer promotes the insurance giant's push to get people to be more active. It also puts the name of the nation's largest public insurer in front of thousands of delegates, reporters, donors and politicians.
It isn't known how much money UnitedHealth Group has given to the convention organizers in Charlotte and Tampa. Organizers don't have to release their contributions until Oct. 15. Officials with UnitedHealth Group did not return calls to discuss their giving to either convention. The company's Political Action Committee, however, has been actively contributing to both parties and candidates in the 2012 election cycle.
Political donations to conventions have come under fire by good government groups. The watchdog group, Public Citizen, says the donations give corporations and others unfettered access to lawmakers and others with political power. Roll Call says corporate contributions to conventions are down this year because of the down economy and negative backlash to giving.