President Barack Obama’s largest campaign donors last month included employees of Wells Fargo & Co., (WFC) JPMorgan Chase & Co. (JPM) and Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (GS), according to an analysis of Federal Election Commission records.
Their support indicates that Wall Street, which gave Obama $16 million for his successful 2008 White House run, is opening its checkbook again for the president. The contributions helped Obama raise $21 million in February, including $6.5 million transferred from a joint fundraising committee with the Democratic National Committee.
“The reality is the election has evolved from being Obama versus Obama to Obama versus a Republican alternative,” said Robert Zimmerman, a Democratic National Committee member and Obama fundraiser. “Now that contributors, party activists and citizens are seeing the choice, you’re seeing more support emerge for Barack Obama.”
Obama has raised $161 million for his re-election and entered March with $84.7 million in the bank. Four years ago, engaged in a primary battle with Hillary Clinton for the Democratic nomination, he had raised $197 million by the end of February and had close to $40 million in cash.
The incumbent has raised twice as much as Republican front- runner Mitt Romney, who has brought in $75.6 million, including $12 million last month. Obama’s campaign bank account entering March was more than 11 times greater than Romney’s.
Romney Investor Support
Romney, a former Massachusetts governor and a co-founder of the Boston-based private equity firm Bain Capital LLC, has received strong support from Wall Street to fill his campaign coffers. He has received $6 of every $10 contributed to a presidential candidate by securities and investment industry employees and their families, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, a Washington-based research group that tracks campaign giving.
Through Jan. 31, they had given $6.6 million to Romney, including $521,180 from Goldman employees and their families, and $2.3 million to Obama.
The president has acknowledged the falloff in donations from Wall Street. “So many of you have had to defend me from your co-workers over the last three years,” he said to laughter March 2 at a New York City fundraiser targeting the financial industry.
Obama has focused on technology companies. Employees of Microsoft Corp. (MSFT), based in Redmond, Washington, donated $91,881, his biggest source of contributions from those listing an employer, according to a computer-assisted analysis of FEC reports filed today. Microsoft employees and their families have given almost $300,000 to Obama’s re-election, more than anyone else, according to FEC records and the Center for Responsive Politics.
This time around, the president also counted as his top sources of campaign cash employees of San Francisco-based Wells Fargo and JPMorgan and Goldman of New York. The financial community had been missing from his list of top donors for his re-election, some of whom are upset over his support of new legislation designed to regulate an industry blamed for contributing to the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression.
Obama’s Small Donors
Obama continued to do well among small donors; 54 percent of the money donated to his campaign came in amounts of $200 or less.
Priorities USA Action, a political action committee supporting the president, also got a boost in large donations.
After raising 58,816 in January, it reported getting $2 million in February, including $1 million from comedian Bill Maher, after the president signaled to wealthy backers that they should support the committee. The super-PAC began this month with $2.8 million in the bank.
Jim Messina, Obama’s campaign manager, said on Feb. 6 that White House and Cabinet officials would begin helping the super- PAC raise money to take on Republican groups which are amassing millions to oppose him.
Employees of the law and lobbying firm DLA Piper (1191L) gave $41,728, second only to Microsoft, bringing their total to more than $200,000. DLA Piper last year was paid $8.2 million for lobbying services by such clients as Comcast Corp. and Raytheon Co. (RTN)
Wall Street Money
Wells Fargo employees ranked sixth with $16,290 in donations to the president’s campaign last month; JPMorgan executives came in 10th with $14,903, just ahead of Goldman employees who gave $14,610.
Employees of New York-based Goldman and their families gave Obama $1 million four years ago, more than those of any other company, and JPMorgan employees contributed $808,799, the fourth most, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.
Eight of the 10 biggest donors to Romney through Jan. 31 worked for banks and investment funds. In February, there were four: Bank of America Corp. of Charlotte, North Carolina; New York-based Morgan Stanley (MS); JPMorgan and Goldman Sachs. Romney took in $13,500 from Goldman employees last month, less than Obama did.
Romney’s two largest sources of contributions in February were employees of insurance companies, Hartford, Connecticut- based Aetna Inc., (AET) which gave $43,000, and Liberty Mutual Holding Co. of Boston, which donated $37,250.
“This cartoon caricature that political pundits have of Wall Street sitting around a table and deciding who’s in and who’s out has no relevance in political reality,” said Zimmerman, who has raised between $100,000 and $200,000 for the president’s re-election. “Individuals on Wall Street give like other donors do, with their own agenda and their own goals and aspirations.”
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