Mitt Romney’s investment background, criticized by some of his Republican presidential rivals, is helping him build a financial advantage over them.
In the fourth quarter of last year, eight of the 10 biggest donors to Romney, co-founder of Boston-based Bain Capital LLC, a private-equity firm, worked for banks and investment funds, according to data compiled by Bloomberg based on U.S. Federal Election Commission information released yesterday. Citigroup Inc. (C) employees gave $196,600. Those at JPMorgan Chase & Co. donated $180,518, and Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (GS) workers contributed $106,580.
For the whole campaign, Goldman Sachs employees and their families have been the largest source of campaign cash for Romney, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, a Washington-based group that tracks political money. They have given him almost half a million dollars; four years ago, they gave $1 million to President Barack Obama, according to the center and FEC filings.
“Wall Street supports someone they consider one of their own and the candidate perceived to be the most committed to promoting policies they prefer,” said Costas Panagopoulos, director of the Center for Electoral Politics and Democracy at Fordham University in New York.
Obama raised almost $16 million from employees in the securities and investment industry and their families for the 2008 election, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.
Bankers Go Elsewhere
After Obama championed new regulations designed to curb abuses blamed for the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression, Wall Street put its money elsewhere.
JPMorgan, whose employees gave $23,494 to the incumbent in the last three months, was the only financial institution to appear on Obama’s top 10 list for the fourth quarter.
Romney has pledged to repeal the regulations and touts his experience at Bain in creating jobs. His Republican opponents, most notably former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, have argued that he actually destroyed jobs while pocketing huge fees. A film aired by a pro-Gingrich political action committee called Romney a “corporate raider” who “began a pattern of exploiting dozens of American businesses.”
The former Massachusetts governor, winner of last night’s Florida (BEESFL) primary, raised $57 million last year for his campaign, more than any other Republican candidate. Gingrich, who finished second in Florida, raised $12.7 million, including $9.8 million in the last three months.
Obama’s Small Donors
Obama, meanwhile, raised more money from small-dollar donors than Romney raised overall, bringing in $58.5 million in contributions of $200 or less.
The incumbent Democratic president took in a total of $128 million in 2011 for his re-election, including $40 million in the last three months. He reported having $81.8 million in the bank as of Dec. 31 -- four times Romney’s balance.
The president’s biggest source of donations in the fourth quarter came from employees at the trial lawyer firm of Morgan & Morgan PA, who gave $104,645. His largest corporate sources of donations were employees at Google Inc. (GOOG) and International Business Machines Corp. (IBM)
“At a time when the financial industry remains deeply unpopular among a majority of Americans, a decline in contributions may not be seen as a tragedy inside the Obama White House,” said Rogan Kersh, associate dean at New York University’s Wagner School. NYU professors and other employees gave $24,060 to Obama from October through December, his eighth- biggest source of donations.
Obama still has some supporters in the industry. A Goldman Sachs managing director, Bruce Heyman, raised more than $500,000 for the president’s re-election, the campaign said yesterday.
Romney’s support goes beyond campaign donations. Robert Mercer, co-chief executive officer of the hedge fund Renaissance Technologies, and Julian Robertson, co-founder and president of hedge fund Tiger Management LLC, each gave $1 million to Restore Our Future, a so-called super-political action committee dedicated to electing Romney, in the last six months.
So did Paul Singer, president and founder of the New York- based hedge fund Elliott Management Corp. Elliott employees gave $106,025 to Romney’s campaign in the last three months.
Romney’s Lobbyist Fundraisers
Restore Our Future had already received $1 million contributions from Edward Conard, a former colleague of Romney’s from Bain Capital, and billionaire money manager John Paulson in the first half of 2011. In the second half, five Goldman Sachs employees gave a total of $385,000 to the super-PAC.
As required by federal law, Romney also disclosed to the FEC the names of 14 lobbyists who raised $1.2 million for his campaign by tapping their own source networks and urging donations to the campaign or by hosting fundraisers, a practice called bundling.
The group was led by Patrick Durkin of Barclays Plc, who brought in $606,950; and Wayne Berman, whose clients include Blackstone Group LP (BX) and brought in $177,475.
A Goldman Sachs lobbyist, Joseph Wall, raised $30,399 for Romney. Wall lobbied on the new financial regulations, according to his disclosure form filed with the Senate, as did another lobbyist-bundler for Romney, Thomas Boyd of DLA Piper, who raised $26,350 for the campaign.
No Lobbyist Donations
Obama doesn’t accept donations from registered lobbyists or recruit them to bundle donations for his campaign. That may not be a hurdle. Obama reported that the number of fundraisers bringing in at least $50,000 increased to 445, from 351 at the end of September.
He named 61 bundlers who raised more than $500,000, up from 41 in September. Obama is the only presidential candidate to publicly identify all of the backers who are bundling donations.
Representative Ron Paul of Texas was the second-most prolific Republican fundraiser, bringing in $26 million last year, more than half of it, $13.3 million, in the last three months. Slightly more than half of Paul’s money -- $13.6 million -- came in donations of $200 or less. He entered January with $1.9 million in the bank.
Gingrich entered January with $2.1 million in the bank. He also reported debts of $1.2 million.
Gingrich paid off his own debt to himself. The campaign reimbursed the former speaker more than $200,000 for travel and paid him $47,005 for a mailing list, as well as $67,016 in compensation to Gingrich Productions for web hosting.
From October through December, the Gingrich campaign paid the consulting company led by his daughter, Jackie Gingrich Cushman, $21,811 for consulting and travel. The campaign previously paid Cushman Enterprises Inc. $34,321.
Gingrich, who won the South Carolina primary, raised another $5 million last month, said R.C. Hammond, his campaign spokesman.
Former U.S. Senator Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania raised $2.2 million last year, including $920,428 in the fourth quarter. He entered 2012 with $278,935 in the bank and debts of $204,836.
Texas Governor Rick Perry, who dropped out of the Republican race on Jan. 19 and endorsed Gingrich, raised $20 million last year and had $3.8 million in the bank at the end of 2011. He brought in $2.9 million in the fourth quarter, down from $17 million in the previous three months.
Minnesota Representative Michele Bachmann, who ended her campaign Jan. 4, brought in $9.3 million last year, including $4.8 million in amounts of $200 or less. Bachmann had $1.1 million in debt -- more than half of it owed to a telemarketing firm -- and $358,725 in cash at the end of 2011.
Former Utah Governor Jon Huntsman, who withdrew from the race Jan. 16, had $3.8 million in debts at the end of 2011, including $2.5 million he lent his campaign. Huntsman raised $3.3 million, including $1.1 million in the fourth quarter, and had $110,965 in the bank on Jan. 1.
Georgia businessman Herman Cain raised $11.2 million in the fourth quarter and $16.9 million overall for his campaign, which he ended in early December. He had almost $1 million still in his account and owed $580,200 on Dec. 31.
Former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty, who withdrew from the Republican race in August after finishing third in the Iowa straw poll, raised more than $400,000 in the fourth quarter, whittling his campaign debt to $102,911 -- little more than double the $46,268 he had in the bank as of Dec. 31. He raised $5.9 million last year for his campaign.
Pawlenty received financial help from Romney, whom he endorsed in September, and Romney’s wife, Ann. They contributed the maximum $2,500 each, as did 11 other Romney family members.
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