Who is bankrolling the Bush and Kerry campaigns?
- July 23, 2004
Who Is Bankrolling the Bush and Kerry Campaigns?
Candidates Have More Than 1,000 Big-Money Bundlers Between Them;
WhiteHouseForSale.org Shows Which Industries Are Collecting the Most Money
WASHINGTON, D.C.- The presidential campaigns of George W. Bush and John
Kerry have raised an unprecedented $414 million during the primary season,
relying to a significant extent on the efforts of more than 1,000 corporate
executives, lawyers, lobbyists and other wealthy special interests who have
maximized their political influence by bundling a large number of individual
contributions for the candidate of their choice. A new analysis by Public
Citizen, posted today at WhiteHouseForSale.org
<http://www.whitehouseforsale.org/>, offers a side-by-side comparison of the
minimum amounts bundled by key industries for each candidate.
As of June 30, the president had raised $42 million more than his opponent,
so it's no surprise that he collected more than Kerry from most key
industries. But executives from the energy, transportation, construction and
agriculture sectors bundled contributions almost exclusively for Bush.
However, Kerry has raised significantly more than Bush from lawyers and the
media/entertainment industry. Several industries - finance, in particular -
have given eye-popping amounts to both candidates.
"An elite group of rainmakers seeks to hijack our democracy," said Public
Citizen President Joan Claybrook. "The question is whether Bush will step up
as Kerry already has to support the McCain-Feingold-Shays-Meehan proposal to
overhaul the presidential public financing system. That's the only way to
rescue our elections from the clutches of the special interests bankrolling
Bush has collected nearly a third of his $228 million total ($73.6 million)
from 211 "Rangers" and 314 "Pioneers," the honorary titles given to
fundraisers who have collected at least $200,000 or $100,000, respectively,
for his re-election bid. Kerry has raised at least 22 percent of his $186
million total ($41.5 million) from 266 "Vice Chairs" (who have raised at
least $100,000) and 298 "Co-Chairs" (who have collected at least $50,000).
The amounts bundled, however, are probably much higher; the campaigns only
identify bundlers who have crossed certain fundraising thresholds and do not
release the exact amounts collected.
Financial executives rank among the top fundraisers for both candidates.
Representatives of at least six big Wall Street firms - the Blackstone
Group, Credit Suisse First Boston, Goldman Sachs, J.P. Morgan, Morgan
Stanley and UBS Financial Services - are on the lists of top fundraisers for
both campaigns. Overall, the finance industry bundled the most of any
industry for the major party candidates since 2003 - nearly $21 million,
two-thirds of which went to Bush. (The president collected at least $14.1
million from the finance industry versus about $6.8 million for Kerry.)
Likewise, most of the industries or professions bundling the most for both
candidates gave significantly more to Bush - from lobbyists ($8.2 million
vs. $2.7 million ) to real estate interests ($7 million vs. $2.4 million) to
state and federal government officials ($5.4 million vs. $2.3 million). But
where Bush really outdistanced Kerry was the money he raised from industries
that bundled very little money for the Democrat. For example, Bush has
collected at least $4.9 million from the energy and natural resources sector
- 25 times more than the $200,000 that Kerry took in from that sector.
Bush also collected 15 times more than Kerry from the construction industry
($3.9 million vs. $250,000), 10 times more from the transportation sector
($3 million vs. $300,000), and four times more from the insurance industry
($1.8 million vs. $450,000). Bush raised three times as much as Kerry from
bundlers representing hospitals, HMOs, nursing homes and drug companies
($4.4 million vs. $1.3 million). And while agribusiness interests collected
at least $1.7 million for Bush, no one from the industry turned up on
Kerry's list of top fundraisers.
However, Kerry raised nearly twice as much as Bush from lawyers, excluding
trial lawyers ($7.3 million vs. $3.7 million) and four times as much from
media/entertainment interests ($3.2 million vs. $800,000), drawing the
support of numerous Hollywood executives and television producers. Kerry
collected an additional $3.7 million from trial lawyers. No trial lawyers
bundled for Bush.
WhiteHouseForSale.org <http://www.whitehouseforsale.org/>, a Web site
created by Public Citizen to track contributors to the 2004 presidential
campaigns, features a searchable database of the major fundraisers for Bush
and Kerry, listing their home states, employers, occupations and industries.
The Web site also offers charts showing the number of fundraisers per state
for each candidate. The states with the most big-money Bush backers are
Texas, Florida, New York, California and Ohio. Two-thirds of all of Kerry's
bundlers come from California, New York, Massachusetts and Washington, D.C.
After accepting the Democratic nomination next week, Kerry will opt in to
the presidential public financing system and receive $74 million in public
funds for the general election. In early September, following the Republican
Convention, Bush will do the same. Many of Bush's backers are already
raising money for the Republican Party - which has been the president's main
focus since April. Sixty-two "Super-Rangers" have raised $300,000 for the
Republican National Committee in addition to the $200,000 or $100,000 that
all but a few of them previously collected for the Bush campaign. For the
Democrats, 17 "Trustees" have raised $250,000 in addition to their
contributions to the Kerry campaign.
"We're heading down a path toward plutocracy," said Frank Clemente, director
of Public Citizen's Congress Watch <http://www.citizen.org/congress/>.
"Unless we fix the way we finance elections in this country, special
interests will steamroll average citizens every time."
Press release by Public Citizen, 1600 20th Street, NW, Washington, DC 20009,
(202) 588-1000, <www.citizen.org>.