62 “Super Rangers” Round Up $28.5 Million for Bush Campaign Efforts

July 1, 2004

62 “Super Rangers” Round Up $28.5 Million for Bush Campaign Efforts

WhiteHouseForSale.org Investigates Elite Republican Rainmakers Bankrolling Bush and Identifies Deep-Pocketed Democrats Backing the Kerry Campaign

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The biggest of President Bush’s big-money backers were revealed yesterday when the Republican National Committee (RNC) released the names of 62 “Super Rangers” – fundraisers who have collected at least $28.5 million for Bush’s re-election efforts, according to an analysis by Public Citizen posted today at WhiteHouseForSale.org.

The “Super Rangers” are high-powered fundraisers who have collected at least $300,000 for the RNC. All but a handful of these rainmakers already ranked among Bush’s largest financial backers. Forty-five of the Super Rangers previously had been crowned “Rangers” after raising at least $200,000 for the 2004 Bush-Cheney campaign – meaning they each have raised at least $500,000 this cycle. Nine more had achieved “Pioneer” status by collecting at least $100,000 for Bush.

“The fact that any individual is allowed to bundle half a million dollars for the president is an affront to our democracy,” said Public Citizen President Joan Claybrook. “But the Bush administration has made clear from day one that it will shower its supporters with special favors, insider access and plum appointments. No wonder so many executives and lobbyists are competing for these titles.”

Relying largely on the efforts of 211 Rangers and 314 Pioneers, the Bush campaign has raised an astounding $216 million so far. But since early April, the GOP has shifted its fundraising focus from the presidential campaign to the RNC’s “Victory Fund.” While donations to the Bush campaign are capped at $2,000, individuals can give a maximum of $25,000 to the RNC. Moreover, the campaign must spend all of its money before the Republican National Convention – when the president will opt into the presidential public financing system and pocket $75 million for a two-month sprint to Election Day.

The Republican Party, however, contends it can spend its money – which could be as much as another $200 million – throughout the fall. That’s why Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney and First Lady Laura Bush now headline private fundraisers for the RNC where the tickets start at $25,000 per couple.

WhiteHouseForSale.org, a Web site created by Public Citizen in conjunction with Texans for Public Justice to track contributors to Bush’s 2004 re-election campaign, has posted the names of all 62 Super Rangers, along with their home states, employers and occupations. It also features charts showing the 24 states that are home to Super Rangers – led by California with nine – and detailing which industries have collected the most cash for Bush and the RNC.

Nearly a third of the Super Rangers are from the finance sector. These bankers, money managers and wealthy private investors include Roland Arnall, CEO of Ameriquest; Peter Coneway, who founded the Texas branch of Goldman Sachs; and William DeWitt, the longtime business partner of Bush campaign national finance chairman Mercer Reynolds – who recently moved his fundraising operation to the RNC.

Real estate developers accounted for seven Super Rangers, including three Florida fundraisers –Al Austin, Gary Morse and Al Hoffman, finance chairman of the RNC – who have backed both the president and his brother, Florida Gov. Jeb Bush. The president’s uncle, William H.T. “Bucky” Bush, is a Super Ranger, too, along with former Czech Ambassador Craig Stapleton, who is married to the president’s first cousin.

Other Super Rangers include Chiquita top banana Carl Lindner; Jerry Perenchio, the California billionaire who runs Univision; and Nancy Kinder, whose husband Richard is the former president of Enron, where she once worked as Ken Lay’s personal secretary. Those on the RNC list who haven’t been named Rangers or Pioneers include Home Depot CEO Robert Nardelli and his top lobbyist, Kent Knutson, whose wife Karen was once a top aide to Cheney.

Faced with Bush’s unprecedented fundraising haul, Sen. John Kerry has been playing catch-up. Taking in an average of more than $1 million a day since securing the Democratic nomination, Kerry has raised $141.4 million so far. Though nearly a third of this amount has been brought in over the Internet, Kerry too has relied on the largesse of big-money bundlers. Kerry’s 164 “vice chairs” (who have raised at least $100,000) and 171 “co-chairs” (who have collected at least $50,000) have accounted for at least $25 million, and likely much more, of Kerry’s total fundraising.

The list of Kerry’s top fundraisers – which has nearly doubled in size since it was last updated in late March – includes 114 bundlers from California, 71 from New York and 35 from the senator’s home state of Massachusetts. These three states accounted for two-thirds of all of Kerry’s bundlers. Along with an updated, searchable database of all of Kerry’s bundlers, WhiteHouseforSale.org offers a chart showing the number of Kerry fundraisers per state and by industry.

Lawyers accounted for a quarter of Kerry’s top bundlers – a group that includes 31 trial lawyers who contributed at least $2.6 million so far. The top industries represented on the Kerry bundlers list were finance, real estate and media entertainment. The latter category includes such Hollywood notables as DreamWorks chief Jeffrey Katzenberg and film producer Lawrence Bender.

The list of Kerry’s major backers suggests that the Democratic Party has unified following the primaries. His vice-chairs and co-chairs include major financial backers of Howard Dean, Wesley Clark and John Edwards. A number of former Clinton officials also are on the list, including former U.N. Ambassador Richard Holbrooke, ex-FCC Commissioner Susan Ness and Johnny Hayes, the former head of the Tennessee Valley Authority.

The Democratic National Committee also has an equivalent to the Super-Rangers called “Trustees.” These individuals have raised at least $250,000 for the party. All but four of the 17 Trustees also have collected at least $100,000 for the Kerry campaign.

“The need to fix the presidential public financing system has never been greater,” said Frank Clemente, director of Public Citizen’s Congress Watch. “We need to rescue our election process from the fat cats and return it to average Americans.”

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