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Entries in bundlers (6)

Wednesday
Nov282012

Watchdogs Question Obama Donor Influence in ‘Fiscal Cliff’ Meetings

Pete Souza/The White House(WASHINGTON) -- Government watchdogs Wednesday questioned the place of top Obama campaign donors among the elite few invited to the White House over the past two weeks for private presidential consultations on the looming “fiscal cliff.”

Supporters of President Obama who maxed out personal contributions to his campaign or the Democratic National Committee, or helped bundle hundreds of thousands of dollars more, have been seated at the table in every publicly-announced post-election White House meeting with “business leaders,” according to lists released by the administration.

A West Wing meeting with Obama on Wednesday afternoon included Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer, who bundled between $100,000 and $200,000 for Obama’s campaign; Comcast CEO Brian Roberts, who gave $20,000 to the DNC; and Archer Daniels Midland CEO Patricia Woertz, who gave more than $33,000 to Obama and the DNC combined, Federal Election Commission records show.

On Nov. 16, according to Bloomberg News, Obama attended an unpublicized meeting with a group of financial leaders, most of whom were his top campaign financiers.  The list of participants includes at least six bundlers — including UBS Americas chairman Robert Wolf and Centerbridge Partners founder Mark Gallogly — who each raised half a million dollars or more for a second Obama term, according to the president’s campaign.

“It certainly looks like the president is rewarding his top bundlers with White House meetings on this critical issue,” said Mary Boyle of Common Cause, a nonpartisan group that promotes greater government transparency.

“This is the access the bundlers were seeking when they spent months on end raising money for President Obama, and this will be their first opportunity to let him know what else they expect for their investment,” she said.

The Sunlight Foundation’s Bill Allison said inclusion of so many donors underscores a “culture of money and access.”

“This plays right into it,” he said.

“You shouldn’t necessarily exclude somebody because they’ve given money from seeking their advice or seeking their opinion,” Allison added. “But when donors are such an overwhelming part of the kinds of folks you’re bringing in, I think you end up with a somewhat distorted view of the economy.”

Among the executives Obama met with on Wednesday were several who gave to the campaign of Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney.  Marriott CEO Arne Sorenson and State Farm CEO Ed Rust both maxed out to Romney’s campaign and the Republican National Committee.  Caterpillar CEO Doug Oberhelman and AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson, also big GOP donors, also attended.

“Nice of them to include a few Romney donors in the CEOs, but still, all of these people who gave money for the most part do it because they have a stake in the outcome of the election and they want to be able to access politicians,” Allison said.

“It’s really hard for me to believe that there aren’t plenty of business people out there who don’t play the political game and who might have something to say that’s of use to the president on the economy,” he said, noting that very few business owners actually donate to political campaigns.

A White House spokesman dismissed the criticism, noting that Obama has met with business and social leaders who are not donors or bundlers, and Wednesday assembled 85 “ordinary middle-class folks” for an event on taxes.

(The official declined to provide a list of names of those “folks” or whether any of the participants were donors. Obama did not hold a formal meeting with the attendees, according to the president’s public schedule.)

Fred Wertheimer of Democracy 21, a watchdog group, said that while greater transparency is always preferred, Obama’s inclusion of donors is to be expected.

“He’s looking to build support for his proposal and it’s not unnatural to be meeting with your supporters to build support,” Wertheimer said.

Earlier this week, a coalition of independent watchdog groups praised Obama’s advances in transparency, including new legislation, backed by the administration and signed into law this week, that enhances protections for government whistleblowers.

The groups have also credited Obama for voluntarily releasing the names and contribution amounts of his bundlers — a move not required by law and not matched by his Republican rival.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Friday
Oct192012

President Obama’s Bundlers Include Former Republican Florida Gov. Charlie Crist, Gwen Stefani

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images(CHICAGO) -- The Obama campaign Friday voluntarily released a full list of its top campaign financiers, also known as bundlers. Combined, these 758 individuals are responsible for at least one fifth – or $180 million – of the more-than-$835 million raised by President Obama and Democrats for this election.

These wealthy donors each give the legal maximum to the campaign for the primary and general elections ($5,000) and to the Democratic National Committee ($30,800).  They then get their well-placed friends and colleagues to do the same.

Supporters who collect $50,000 or more for Obama and Democrats earn the “bundler” classification.

Obama added 120 new bundlers to his list in the third quarter, July through September, including former Republican governor of Florida, Gov. Charlie Crist, former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and singer Gwen Stefani, who raised more than half a million dollars, according to the Obama campaign.

The president also received elite fundraising support from 13 American bundlers who live overseas, collecting ex-pat cash in London, Paris, Geneva and Shanghai.

Here’s the breakdown of Obama bundlers, as provided by the campaign:

  •     172 bundlers at $50,000-$100,000 each
  •     169 bundlers at $100,000-$200,000 each
  •     181 bundlers at $200,000-$500,000 each
  •     236 bundlers at $500,000+ each

It’s important to note that Obama is the only candidate to voluntarily release the identities and contribution amounts of his bundlers. Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney has not released comparable information, breaking with a precedent set by President George W. Bush and continued by the 2008 Republican presidential nominee, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., by keeping his top financiers secret.

You can see the full list of Obama bundlers HERE.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Saturday
Jun232012

Mitt Romney Donor Retreat Kicks Off with Tote Bags, Ski Jumpers, and a Roast from Ann

ABC/ Ida Mae Astute(PARK CITY, UTAH) – “It will be the happiest day of my life, after the day I got married and the birth of my children.”

That’s how one donor described what Mitt Romney winning the presidency would mean to him–and he’s a Democrat from Los Angeles.

He gave his first ever donation to a candidate just this Fall – a $500 check to Romney – and has since bundled over $200,000 through donations ranging from $1,000 to $2,000 increments for the former governor’s presidential campaign, but the donor, who owns shopping centers in California, doesn’t want to be publicly identified as a “bundler.”

The Los Angeles donor, who once voted for Ronald Reagan, said he cast his ballot for Obama in 2008 because he liked his “rhetoric,” but he’s since soured on the president whom he called “arrogant” and has turned his full focus on getting Romney elected the next President of the United States.

He said he took time away from his business and family to attend this weekend because he wanted to “network” with other attendees and spend time with Romney himself.

Wealthy donors and bundlers determined to propel Romney to the White House joined a mix of GOP elite, leaders of the party, and members of Romney staff in this postcard perfect resort town for the weekend retreat beginning Friday.

For many, this is a once in a lifetime opportunity to listen to the most famous and influential of the Republican party, hob nob with other wealthy fundraisers and Republican lawmakers, and of course mingle with the presumptive GOP nominee.

There could be as many as 700 attendees gathering at the exclusive retreat over the course of the weekend, and a number of vice presidential contenders will speak and socialize with the donors, including former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, Ohio Sen. Rob Portman, Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, and South Dakota Sen. John Thune.

As attendees entered the Chateaux at Silver Lake, the host hotel, throughout the sunny afternoon, they were handed a Vineyard Vines tan canvas tote bag with navy piping and the words “Believe in America” stitched on the side. Inside the bag was a blue baseball hat with “Romney” written over a circular American flag and a thick white binder, detailing the weekend’s schedule from policy discussions to social events, along with a list of Romney’s upcoming events.

In addition to the Romney swag, there was also a typed note from Romney’s National Finance Chairman Spencer Zwick addressed to the attendees by their first name. “Welcome to the first Romney Victory Leadership Retreat! We are very glad you were able to join us for this special weekend. Thank you for the continued support and leadership. On to victory!” the card read.

Some were even personalized with a handwritten note from Zwick expressing appreciation to the donor and their family, signed with his initials “SZ.”

Golf carts whipped attendees around the complex and to and from the Stein Eriksen lodge across the street where discussions on healthcare, Israel and the financial services industry were conducted.

The Republican strategist Mary Matalin, Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus, and a beaming Tagg Romney, the candidate’s eldest son, were seen whizzing by on the carts at various points in the day. The personal touch didn’t stop there. As attendees registered, campaign staffers handed everyone a schedule on a lanyard credential, gave directions, and even offered to take suitcases up for those eager to get to the events.

One of the first discussions was a lecture from former Secretary of State James Baker III. Rodger Young and his 26 year old daughter, Lauren, came from New York and Chicago respectively for the retreat (every attendee got a plus one), and he said he was so impressed by Baker he didn’t expect to enjoy another one of the events so thoroughly.

Young described the speech as “positive” in tone and although he said Baker did say the country was in “significant trouble” because of the nation’s “debt burden,” the state of the world “internationally…isn’t as bad as you think,” specifically pointing out that America has “still by far the strongest military.”

Baker scolded the Obama administration for “ignoring any type of bi-partisanship,” according to the Youngs. Rodger Young is a business and trial lawyer who lives in both Michigan and New York. Young said he supported Romney in 2008 and originally became involved because he knows Romney’s older brother Scott, who was also on hand for the weekend.

He described himself as a donor not a bundler, “yet.” Young said the 82-year-old Baker told the crowd he has been around for “1/3 as long as this republic has existed” and despite its current troubles he knows the “resilience of the American people will conquer all.”

Lauren praised the campaign’s social media efforts, saying she thinks it is effectively targeting Republicans her age.

Friday evening, retreat goers attended a reception at Olympic Park, which sits atop a mountain overlooking picturesque Park City. Romney waved to the small group of press relegated to the bottom of the mountain as his motorcade zoomed up the mountainside.

As young Olympic hopefuls practiced their impressive ski jumping on the green jumps from the 2002 Olympics, which Romney ran, donors arrived amidst heavy security.

Reporters were not allowed into the event, but Olympic athletes did perform their ski jumping for those lucky enough to attend with their plus one.

Two donors who attended the reception said their highlight was Ann Romney’s speech where she introduced her family and roasted her sons, four of whom attended.

It all starts up again early Saturday morning with donors expected to hear from Sen. John McCain, former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, Ann Romney, and Karl Rove, former Bush strategist and founder of the GOP superPAC American Crossroads, throughout the day.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Friday
Apr202012

Obama Campaign Flags ‘Less-Than-Reputable’ Romney Donors

Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images(CHICAGO) -- President Obama’s re-election campaign is circulating a list of eight “wealthy individuals with less-than-reputable records” who have donated to presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney.

“Quite a few have been on the wrong side of the law, others have made profits at the expense of so many Americans, and still others are donating to help ensure Romney puts beneficial policies in place for them,” the campaign said in a statement from its “Truth Team.”

Team Obama alleges four men, who have each given more than $100,000 to support Romney and an affiliated super PAC, have benefited from “betting against America” -- specifically through outsourcing.

The list includes Paul Schorr, a partner at Blackstone Group, the nation’s largest private equity firm; investors Sam and Jeffrey Fox of the Harbour Group; and T. Martin Fiorentino, who has lobbied for Lender Processing Services, a firm that has been penalized by the government for its mortgage servicing and foreclosure practices.

The Obama campaign also suggests that contributions from a group of deep-pocket “special-interest donors” are aimed at pushing a specific agenda, specifically on behalf of the U.S. oil industry.

The campaign’s blog post names oil investor Louis Moore Bacon, oil refining company CEO Thomas O’Malley, registered oil industry lobbyist Kent Burton and businessman Frank Vandersloot as figures “donating to help ensure Romney puts beneficial policies in place for them.”

President Obama, unlike Romney, voluntarily discloses the names and contribution amounts of all his top volunteer fundraisers -- “bundlers” -- not just those who are registered lobbyists, as required by law. Obama also refuses donations from registered lobbyists or PACs.

But Obama has received support from hundreds of wealthy Americans -- including some with less-than-reputable records of their own.

Perhaps most notably, Hamilton E. James, the president and chief operating officer of Blackstone Group, who has likely benefited from some of the same investment practices for which Romney's donor Paul Schorr is criticized.  James is a major Obama supporter, who has donated $35,800 -- the legal maximum to the Obama Campaign and the Democratic National Committee in November of last year, according to Federal Election Commission records.

James will also host a fundraiser for the president in May that is expected to draw more donations from the private equity sector, a source told the New York Times.

Former New Jersey Gov. and Obama bundler Jon Corzine has been under investigation for his role in the collapse of investment firm MF Global, where he was chairman and CEO and from which more than $1 billion disappeared.

The Obama campaign and Democratic National Committee later announced they would refund more than $70,000 in contributions from Corzine and his wife. Officials said they would examine on a case by case basis whether to refund some of the more than $430,000 in additional funds Corzine delivered to the campaign from other supporters.

In February, the Obama campaign refunded more than $200,000 from Carlos and Alberto Cardona after the New York Times reported the brothers’ ties to a Mexican casino magnate and fugitive from the U.S. who had sought a presidential pardon.

Earlier this month, another major Obama donor, Abake Assongba, made headlines for a civil lawsuit alleging that she stole $650,000 in an email scam to help build a multimillion-dollar home. Assongba has bundled more than $50,000 for the campaign.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Oct132011

Top Obama Donors Among Guests at State Dinner

SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Several of President Obama’s top campaign financiers are among the exclusive list of administration officials, diplomats, members of Congress and notable Korean-Americans attending the Korean State Dinner Thursday night at the White House.

At least six are volunteer fundraisers, or bundlers, who together have collected millions of dollars for Obama’s campaign war chests in 2008 and 2012.

Here’s a look at some of the standout donors, with campaign finance data courtesy of the Center for Responsive Politics:

Blair Effron, co-founder Centerview Partners; New York

  • Obama '08 Bundler, $100,000-$200,000
  • Obama '12 Bundler, $500,000+
  • Gave the legal maximum individual donation

Douglas Goldman, chairman/founder Certain Software; San Francisco

  • Obama '08 Bundler, $200,000-$500,000
  • Obama '12 Bundler, $100,000-$200,000
  • Gave the legal maximum individual donation

Fred Khosravi, self-employed entrepreneur; Mountain View, Calif.

  • Gave the legal maximum individual donation

Chris Korge, developer; Coral Gables, Fla.

  • Obama ’08 Bundler, $500,000+
  • Obama ’12 Bundler, $100,000-$200,000
  • Gave the legal maximum individual donation

Scott A. Nathan, investor; Boston

  • Obama ’12 Bundler, $200,000-$500,000
  • Gave the legal maximum individual donation

John Lechleiter, CEO Ely Lilly and Co.; Indianapolis

  • Gave the legal maximum individual donation

Mark Nichols, business consultant; Washington, D.C.

  • Obama ’12 Bundler, $200,000-$500,000
  • Gave the legal maximum individual donation

Eugene Sepulveda, CEO Entrepreneurs Foundation; Austin, Texas

  • Obama ’12 Bundler, $500,000+
  • Gave the legal maximum individual donation

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Mar172011

President Obama Recruits New Fundraisers -- But Faces New Obstacles

ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- President Obama met in a closed hotel ballroom Wednesday evening with the core of his 2012 fundraising team, a group of nearly 500 supporters that by some estimates will be called on to help Obama raise upwards of $1 billion towards his re-election.

The gathering, arranged by the Democratic National Committee, was the latest move in the quiet start-up of the president's 2012 fundraising apparatus. The effort has been slowly getting underway in small, closed-door meetings between Obama's political advisors and his top fundraisers for the past several weeks.

"I think the president knows what's ahead of him," said Mitchell Berger, a veteran Florida fundraiser and advisor to Democratic campaigns dating back to the Carter years, who attended Wednesday event. "When I got started in 1976, we were trying to raise $100 million. You can imagine what that is adjusted for inflation."

As the incumbent president, and someone with a proven record of raising $750 million in his last election, experts agree Obama is well-positioned for what's ahead. But they also tell ABC News there will be new obstacles to his fundraising effort that precipitated this early start.

Some of the faces in the crowd that lined up to pass through security screening in the lobby of the Marriott Wardman Park hotel Wednesday were mainstays of Obama's 2008 bid -- corporate executives, union leaders, and top lawyers capable of tapping their vast networks of friends to raise, in some cases, close to $1 million each. They included past supporters such as Ned Lamont, the former Senate candidate from Connecticut, Florida businessman Mark Gilbert, and venture capitalist Steve Westly.

In 2007 and 2008, Obama assembled an army of so-called "bundlers" -- named for their ability to bundle large numbers of checks in relatively small increments, keeping each individual donor under the legal giving limit, which now stands at $2,500. But political experts agree that the president will confront significant new challenges as he begins to restart that machinery.

For starters, Obama put some of his most proven fundraisers out of commission by turning them into top advisors and overseas ambassadors, making it illegal for them to engage in campaign activity. Among them are a big slice of his top-tier bundlers -- those who raised more than $500,000. They include more than 50 ambassadors, from California bundler Jeff Bleich in Australia to Boston fundraiser Alan Solomont in Spain to Chicago moneyman Louis B. Susman in the United Kingdom -- prized hand-outs to those who brought in large sums at critical points in his campaign.

He will also lose the fundraising clout of senior administration officials such as Julius Genachowski, who now chairs the Federal Communications Commission, and Bill Kennard, whom Obama appointed as U.S. ambassador to the European Union.

A key strategy for replacing those lost to administration posts has been the active recruitment of Democrats who backed Hillary Clinton last cycle. "They're going after the Clinton people," one veteran Obama fundraiser told ABC News. The targets are bundlers such as Florida's Ben Pollara, who says on his website he raised over $12 million for Clinton as her Florida finance director.

At the same time, Obama will have new challenges reaching out to the unprecedented base of small-dollar donors he was able to reach through the internet. In addition to trying to raise money during a much tougher economic climate, Obama will also have to generate excitement among supporters who sent him money because he was the face of change.

"Certainly he faces the loss of his bundlers, many of whom are now in the administration somewhere," said Meredith McGehee, policy director of the Campaign Legal Center. "But he also faces a base that is probably not as gung ho because he's actually had to govern. When you govern, you don't throw as much red meat to that base.?

One advantage in that effort will be the massive list of email addresses and cell phone numbers that the campaign gathered during hundreds of rallies and house parties during the course of the 2008 campaign. Another will be support from within the high-tech community, including Google CEO Eric Schmidt, who has pledged to advise the campaign, according to a top Obama supporter.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio