Executives fuel Obama
Labeled as antibusiness, he gets more campaign money than GOP.
President Obama, who has been characterized as antibusiness by his political opponents, has received more in campaign contributions from business executives this year than any Republican presidential candidate.
Obama raised $5.6 million from executives, or about a third of all their donations through Sept. 30, according to data compiled by Bloomberg News. Republican candidate Mitt Romney raised $5.2 million, far outpacing his primary challengers. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, the front-runner in the latest national polls, raised about $272,000, or 5 percent of Romney's total.
The findings illustrate the powers of an incumbent president with an established fundraising apparatus, and the diversity of political preferences among business leaders. Executives from communications and technology firms led Obama's donor list. Romney's professional ties to private-equity fund Bain Capital Partners L.L.C., which he founded, fueled his receipts.
"Business is not a monolith," Robin Kolodny, a political scientist at Temple University, said in an interview.
The Bloomberg analysis examined contributions from about 9,000 donors through the end of September. The review counted individuals who identified themselves on federal campaign documents by titles such as chief executive officer, president, vice president, chairman, and director.
While executives have given more money to Obama, they make up a small percentage of his total donor base. Executives account for 6 percent of Obama's total contributions, and 16 percent of Romney's, according to the analysis.
Though Obama has criticized the excesses of Wall Street financial firms and their executives, he always has had "a large donor component that was linked to corporate America," David Magleby, a political scientist and visiting scholar at the University of Michigan, said in an interview.
Penny Pritzker, a Chicago billionaire businesswoman and chairwoman of Pritzker Realty Group L.L.C., led Obama's fund-raising efforts in 2008. Matthew Barzun, a former CNET Networks Inc. executive, leads fund-raising for Obama's reelection campaign.
Katie Hogan, a spokeswoman for Obama's campaign, declined to comment on the Bloomberg findings.
Obama raised $59,725 from donors who claimed an executive affiliation at Comcast Corp., the Philadelphia cable-television provider, more than from the leaders of any other company.
Sena Fitzmaurice, a spokeswoman for Comcast, declined to comment on the donations by company executives.
Obama received $25,200 from six executives at San Francisco-based Salesforce.com Inc., which makes online customer-management software.
Technology firms lean more Democratic than Republican because they "tend to be younger, a little bit more unconventional in terms of their thinking about business," said Michigan's Magleby.
Leaders of technology company also may be "pushed away from the Republican Party on some social issues," he said.
Obama's $5.6 million from executives includes $4.4 million transferred to his campaign from the Obama Victory Fund, a joint fund-raising committee that also sends money to the Democratic National Committee.
The Bloomberg analysis shows that Romney, the former Massachusetts governor, is the clear front-runner among Republicans for donations from executives, with his $5.2 million in receipts exceeding the cumulative total of his competitors for the nomination.
Executives from EMC Corp., a data-storage company based in Hopkinton, Mass., donated $65,750 to Romney's campaign, more than the leaders of any other company. Romney received $33,000 from executives with Staples Inc., a Framingham, Mass.-based office-supply company in which he was an early investor.
To executives, Romney "looks more viable in a general election than the rest of the pack," Kolodny said.
Texas Gov. Rick Perry raised at least $3.2 million from executives at businesses including United Services Automobile Association, a San Antonio, Texas, financial-services and insurance company that donated $32,500 from executives.
Executives from Contran Corp., a Dallas-based holding company, donated at least $22,500 to Perry's campaign, and the company's political-action committee contributed $5,000.
It's worth watching whether the business community will lend significant fund-raising help to Gingrich's campaign if he continues to lead in Republican polls, Michael Malbin, executive director of the Campaign Finance Institute, a nonpartisan group that studies political giving, said in an interview.
"Can he possibly rally the mainstream business community to support him?" he said. "I think that's a big question."